40 Years Ago: Alice Cooper Launches ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’ Tour
When Kiss revealed the set for their 2013 tour that featured an enormous, fireball-spewing spider, it wasn’t anything new. David Bowie‘s 1987 Glass Spider tour also had a huge spider set, and more than a decade before that, Alice Cooper used an oversized arachnid as part of his 1975 tour.
In 1975, Alice Cooper went from being rock’s most dangerous band to being a sanitized, vaudeville-meets-horror-films icon with the release of Welcome to My Nightmare, the first solo album singer Vincent Furnier issued under the name Alice Cooper after taking the name of his former group.
He supported the new album with an ambitious tour that was specifically designed to introduce a more mainstream-friendly Alice Cooper persona to the masses, forgoing some of the gorier, edgier aspects of past live productions for a slick, almost cartoonish show that was produced, directed and choreographed by David Winters, who had previously choreographed films starring Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret.
Framed as a nightmare experienced by a boy named Steven, the show included Alice Cooper classics like “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out” along with songs from the new album, staged in a slick multi-media production that featured filmed projections, four dancers, and elaborate sets and costumes. In the course of the nightmare Cooper encountered dancing skeletons, a faceless demon, a nine-foot cyclops and yes, enormous spiders (Take that, Kiss! Don’t think so, David Bowie!) during “Black Widow.”
And while Cooper’s spiders may not have been as high-tech as Bowie’s extravaganza, or Kiss’ elaborate stage — in fact, they looked kinda like weird Muppets — it can still be rightfully said that he got there first in the classic rock world.
The Welcome to My Nightmare tour launched Cooper as a solo superstar, though he soon faltered with subsequent albums like Alice Cooper Goes to Hell and went on to embarrass himself with an ill-advised ’80s foray into New Wave titled Zipper Catches Skin. The tour was also documented in a 1976 concert film of the same name, which failed at the box office but has since become a cult classic.
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