The obscure TV special from Alice Cooper’s lowest point, featuring a strange supporting cast of The Tubes, Nazareth and Sha Na Na.
1977 was not the best of times for Alice Cooper. Fully in the grip of alcoholism, his album of that year – Lace and Whiskey – was a fumbling, dull affair that wallowed in empty sentiment and plodding mid-Seventies rock, only briefly even coming close to the inventive and dramatic Alice of just two years earlier; his tour of that year – captured on the lamentable live album of 1978 – was an embarrassment of drunk, stumbling performances that tried to be a theatrical spectacle but which was let down by its central performer. Rehab awaited and Alice would then spend years struggling to find his place in the post-punk world – ironic, as he had been a major influence on the whole punk scene.
In 1977, Cooper was still a big enough name to front a TV special filmed on June 19th 1977 – the first night of his King of the Silver Screen tour in Anaheim Stadium, California. Oddly, the 50-minute special only features 25 minutes of Cooper, with the rest of the show featuring his supporting acts – The Tubes, Nazareth and Sha Na Na. Some of Cooper’s songs are abruptly curtailed, but the tape does feature the Chickens with Machine Guns – a great prop referencing his infamous encounter with poultry at the Toronto Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival in 1969.
Alice Cooper and Friends found its way to videotape in 1978 but has been conspicuous by its absence ever since. Given that Cooper considers the show – and the whole tour – to be his worst performance, there is probably little interest in reviving it – and the multi-act format also makes it both less attractive and a copyright logistical nightmare. Apparently, Cooper’s team did attempt to find the entire show – presumably, the whole gig was filmed – but it seems that all unused material was lost – or simply dumped – after the special was completed.
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