Originally Published on…Yahoo Groups.
Gary “Uncle G” Brown Archives Re-Print (2020)
Uncle G’s FUN Classic Rock Interviews
Spotlight: Neal Smith (original drummer for Alice Cooper)
Yahoo Group: Glen Buxton Memorial
Uncle G: Here’s an opportunity to read an interview where questions were asked by fans (GBM Group Subscribers) via the world wide web. It’s still the 20th century! Neal’s responses (in which he did in a day) … CLASSICK! So good, that it was deemed a shame for them to be lost forever, and never be seen again.
In memory of Glen Buxton and those who participated with the online interview that are no longer with us. For myself, it was an honor and a pleasure putting it all together.
Gary Brown – Coordinator of The Glen Buxton Memorial Mailing List ( GBM )
Note: That is till I pulled the plug on it. Behind the scenes, things became ugly. The story involves the late, one time Michael Bruce manager, Jeff Jatras. My old friend, Bryan “KaTman” Erickson knows what happened. Scroll down and you’ll see where Bryan participated. A lot of lies were told about me (behind my back). For myself, doing it was a true learning experience. A part of my writing resume’.
Question & Answer with…Neal Smith (original drummer for Alice Cooper)
#1) from Janice B. (note…this is Glen Buxton’s little sister)
What is the order of the different houses that you guys lived in California?
Q.#1) Hey Janice!
You have to remember that I came to California to stay with my buddies, “The Nazz” until I could find a band to join in LA.
The first house that I lived in with the guys, was in Santa Monica, late summer of 1967. Then in September, the guys asked me to join the band. The next move we made, was to Topanga Canyon in the spring of 1968. The Topanga Canyon house is where we changed the name of the band to “Alice Cooper”, and met Shep Gordon and Joe Greenberg. Then we moved to “Hollywood Hills”. This home was owned by actor John Phillip Law, who I saw at the “Chiller Show” last year in NJ. And the last place that we lived in LA was for only two weeks, thank God! I will never forget the address it was 2001 Ivar Street. It was the worst location. I had a 2nd floor apartment, outside of my window was a view of oncoming traffic coming right at you and then curving away on the “Hollywood
Freeway”. There was no way a human being could ever sleep in that place. Then sometime in 1969 we left LA for good.
#2) from Barbara H.
I want to ask Neal if there is any chance that some of the songs from the Midnight Daydream CD might make it into video, as this is the best way to be seen in today’s younger generations eyes. The music has so much potential, and to do this I feel that it would bring you guys to the eyes of MTV and VH1 and that in fact would boost sales tremendously if any one of the songs were to hit home.
Q.#2) Hey Barbara!
I have already offered my services to the “powers that be”, with the “Bruce Cameron Project”, regarding anything, including a music video to promote Bruce’s music. I would be very happy to help and I agree with you 100% on the impact these efforts would make, but the final decision is not up to me.
#3) from Brett Cooper
Taking the entire Alice Cooper history into account, which part do you feel is most misrepresented or misinterpreted by the media/public and deserves to be clarified?
The only thing that should be completely and 1000% understood by the media, the public, and the entire entertainment world, is the fact that every idea and every concept from the very beginning of the Alice Cooper Group, throughout our entire career was a total collaboration of brainstorms from 5 friends and very talented artists: Michael Bruce, Glen Buxton, Alice Cooper, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith. END OF STORY.
#4) from TVTGKELLY
1). According to Alice he has very fond memories of the Psychedelic Supermarket circa 1968? What are your memories of this place?
2). Where and how does one get the newly released “Platinum God” and are you satisfied with all the music that you have recorded on this?
3). When do you plan to do next tour, and or more recordings?
To tell you the truth, I just remember hanging out at the Psychedelic Supermarket and I think that we rehearsed there several times. It was ok, but you must remember I wasn’t too crazy about LA hippies and freaks, but it was certainly a time capsule for the 60’s!
At present the only place on the planet you can order “Platinum God”, is at (www.nealsmith.com), along with other products from the “Neal Smith Classick Drummer Collection, drum sticks, photos, mousepads, T-shirts, etc.
At present I have no plans to play in public or tour. As far as recording, I don’t have any plans right now. I am in the studio a lot and hope to be recording again in the near future. There’s a lot of recording that I would like to do.
#5) from Jon
The Lansley Emporium
The Alice Cooper Allegedly
Have you seen the early pix of you that Skip Ladd let me post at the Lansley Emporium ACG page? What is your favorite recollection of those The Night Riders, The Laser Beats, and The Cloth Of Many Colors days?
Q.#5) Hey Jon!
I do not recall seeing early photos at this specific site, but I’m pretty familiar with a lot of old photos of bands from my High School days, I still have many of them. These were great days, I just loved to play as much as possible, whenever and wherever I could. And of course, it was always a great way to meet members of the opposite sex! At this point the only thing I can remember about the Night Riders is that I had a really big bass drum, a surfboard, I played “Wipe Out” every night and had lots of fun. The Laser Beats were the Night Riders with a singer, that actually I never really liked at all, but we won some battle of the bands I played “Wipe Out” a lot and had some great times. I can’t believe you mention the sacred “Cloth of Many Colors”, no one knows about that band as well it should be. We only did 2 shows and we opened for the “Nazz”, I was the lead singer and frontman (no drums). Our bass guitarist Roger, was the x-sax player from the Night Riders & Laser Beats, he played a fur covered fender bass and Skip played lead guitar. Skip was the only really cool thing about the band. We had a drummer and I don’t know his name. Thank God we only played two gigs, the world would not have been ready for “The Cloth”.
#6) from Tom Callanan
1.) What Alice Cooper songs are your particular favorites – in terms of how
they have held up over time and your own contribution / playing?
Q.#6/1) Hey Tom!
Some of my favorite “ACG” songs are: Black Ju Ju, Ballad of Dwight Fry, Sun Arise, Caught In A Dream, Hallowed Be My Name, Killer, Halo Of Flies, Loony Tune, Grand Finale, Alma Mater, Sick Things, I Love The Dead, Billion Dollar Babies, My Stars, Generation Landslide, Elected, Muscle Of Love, Man With A Golden Gun, Slick Black Limousine, Unfinished Sweet, Public Animal #9.
My contribution to these songs, was first and foremost as the percussionist of the band. I love songs with well produced drums being played as an instrument, not as a glorified metronome. Although music production has come a long way from when we first began recording, I think that the rawness and urgency of our music has held up till today. I would love to record new songs with Alice, Michael and Dennis with today’s technology.
2.) To my ears, 1971 represents the ‘high water mark’ for great hard rock music / bands, in terms of fresh sounds, great playing / production and prolific writing. In retrospect, most of the ‘movements’ that ensued (Bruce, Aerosmith, G&R, new wave, punk ska / reggae, speed/thrash/death metal, Seattle bands) have been pretty much press repackaging, with little true musical innovation. Other than U2 and Metallica, what bands / time period since – do feel has had the same concentration of originality and punch as the period that produced ‘Who’s Next’, ‘LITD / Killer’, ‘Sticky Fingers’, ‘LA Woman’, etc., etc. Is this an accurate summation?
I have to agree with your analogy. For whatever reason the music of that time period, although it was very diversified, it was very creative with a killer energy that spread all across the “Rock World”, creating many classic rock records!
3.) Other than Neal (sic??) Pert, Stewart Copeland and Sean Kinney – who I feel have obviously been influenced by your recorded work (the playing swings as well as rocks, songs have signature ‘riffs’ , wide variety of styles) are there any post-ACG drummers that you feel you’ve influenced heavily or you are impressed by? In the same vein, are there any post ACG bands where you have felt your drumming would be a great fit – or really love to sit in with?
I have no clue if I have or have not influenced any contemporary drummers, but the drummer of the 90’s I like a lot was the first drummer for the Smashing Pumpkins, which is the only band I can think of that I’d like to play or record with. I think they helped bring percussion out of the doldrums of the 80’s, accept for AC/DC.
4.) If the ACG had the opportunity to record just one new single, what do you imagine it would sound like, who would you want for an ideal producer – and from a personal standpoint – would this be a good or a bad thing to do?
Hypothetically, I would like the music of a new ACG single to be somewhere between “Elected” and “Schools Out”, total energy and excitement! Part of our musical formula was our 6th member Bob Ezrin. Bob would be my first choice as producer for any ACG recording project. I love to work with people who challenge me and push my creative limits. As far as a new ACG single being a good or bad thing to do would depend on the reason to record. If done in the right spirit, I don’t know how it could be a bad thing to give the “Alice Cooper Group Fans” of the world what they have been waiting for, for many years.
5.) Every rock critic rates Ringo Starr as a lousy drummer. As one of the greatest drummers ever in rock, do you have any reaction to that?
Ringo is actually one of my early influences along with Charlie Watts, in that style of drumming. Without Ringo the Beatles would have never been the same, Ringo is Great!
6.) Jack Douglas has gone on record with some nasty comments about the ACG – while praising Aerosmith. Given the fact that Aerosmith imitated the ACG sound for most of their first two albums and used many of the same studio musicians uncredited – on albums from that period, this seems grossly unfair, if not bizarre. Jack produced MOL with most of the same writers and musicians used on the incredibly successful LITD, Killer and SO – yet was unable to get a hit to follow a Number One album. It seems obvious that Jack was unable to pull the band together with the same success as Bob Ezrin, in terms of selecting material and providing true direction. Jack’s comments about the band were nearly identical to those used by Phil Spector (whom he also has trashed in the press…) in talking about The Beatles ‘Let It Be’ – which was considered a failure in the same manner as MOL. Do you agree that the momentum lost on MOL was a result of toying with a successful formula – and that the ACG could’ve rallied for an ‘Abbey Road’, with Ezrin at the helm? Do you have any idea how the other ACG members feel about Jack’s comments? ….Thanks for all of the great music!
First of all Jack Douglas and I were and have always been friends. I am not familiar with what he has said about the ACG, if it was negative, well Jack was probably just drunk (only kidding Jack). As far as MOL, I like that record a lot. The title song MOL, is one of my favorites and always kicks ass live (great drum part). As a group and a unit we may have hit a creative wall because of constant touring, writing and recording. While writing MOL the music was coming from all over the place without a conceptual direction which wasn’t a bad thing because Alice, Michael, Dennis and I were all writing individually as usual. We probably should have all taken some time off, recuperated a started fresh. We did finally the following year, but then never got back together again.
#7) from Bryan Erickson
1.) What took so long for Platinum God to get released?
Q.#7/1) Hey Bryan!
I was not going to release “PG”, because I didn’t have enough songs to complete the album. I had 6 songs and needed more, plus I hate my voice. Last summer “1999”, I found two lost unfinished tracks in my studio, so I decided to finished them with the help of Richie Scarlet. But it was really the fans who convinced me to release the album. I still hate my voice, but I’m very happy with “Platinum God”, eighth wonder of the world!
2.) You sang every song on that album. Did you ever sing on recordings elsewhere, or with The Flying Tigers or Neal Smith Band?
The only other recording that I sang on was “Rock n’ Roll Radio” (single version) off of B$B/Battle Axe. I also sang “Rock n’ Roll Radio” live with Flying Tigers.
3.) Are they any recordings of The Flying Tigers and/or NSB?
There are some studio recordings of Flying Tigers and NSB, but the energy is not there like in the live recordings.
4.) Are you writing a book as implied at the GBMW Q&A, or was that just a joke?
If I ever write a book it will be SEX, DRUMS AND ROCK N’ ROLL, no one would get out alive in my book, it would all be about SEX not all of this other boring crap.
#8) from Jan Kjellin
1. After the break-up of the band and the various other musical projects you were involved in, how did the change from rock music to real estate come about and was it a difficult change for you?
Q.#8/1) Hi Jan!
With the success of Love It To Death, I had a little extra pocket change laying around so I invested it into a property in Arizona. Within 2 years I tripled my initial investment. In the early 80’s I went through a divorce and had to sell my home in Connecticut and met some great people that helped my become interested in a field that I was already familiar with. It is a great career because I still can make time for my music. It was not that difficult of a change for me, I love business. I’m a Libra, I need the balance of music and business.
2. I’ve just ordered my copy of ‘Platinum God’ and would be interested in knowing if this is the original, “untampered with”, 70’s recording or if it has been remixed, re-recorded or anything like that?
Six songs on “Platinum God” are the original 70’s mixes, I digitally mastered these songs. The first song “Maneater Deadly To Her Prey” and the seventh song “The Sea’s A Maneater”, have new vocals and new lead guitar tracks. I discovered the bed tracks (music only) for these two songs in my studio this summer. They are the 70’s recordings of basically the same song, but a fast version and a slower version. The slower version being the original speed for “The Sea’s A Maneater”. I took the faster version and wrote a totally new song. I had to go into the studio to add vocals and Richie Scarlet added great lead guitar to both songs, and the album was finally finished after 25 years.
#9) from Mariann M.
1.) Just wondering…what did you do with yours Rolls Royce(s) from the ACG days?
Q.#9/1) Hi Mariann!
I had two Rolls Royce’s, a 1962 Silver Cloud II and a 1929 Phantom I. I sold the Silver Cloud when I was running out of garage space, and I had to sell the Phantom to raise money for my lawyers during my divorce in the early 80’s. Selling the Phantom really hurt!
2.) I just got Platinum God…and liked it immediately…How do you enjoy singing?
Let me put it this way, I like playing my drums much more than singing. I’m not crazy about my voice, but I have a lot of fun singing!
3.) Speaking of…my copy had a signature as well – how many of these have you signed so far?
Initially, I have signed about 1000 of the first copies.
from G.Brown (Coordinator Yahoo Group Glen Buxton Memorial)
Neal, Songs like “Ballad Of Dwight Fry”, “Halo Of Flies”, “Alma Mater /Grande Finale”, “My Stars”, “I Love The Dead”, “Unfinished Sweet”, “Battle Axe – Sudden Death – Winner”, and the song you end your new solo release with “Platinum God”, are very progressive…a lot of great musical moments. Do you prefer performing songs where the emphasis is more on the music, or the words?
Q.#10) Hey Gary!
As a songwriter music and words go hand in hand. They are equally important together. But while performing live, music is my overwhelming priority.
#11) From: Mark H.
Hello Neal, I saw you in concert at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa. back in 72 or 73. You are the reason I started playing drums and I still do today. You have the whole package style, looks, talent. Do you remember that show coming out into the stadium in a Rolls Royce I believe? Is there any way I can get an autograph? Thanks, Mark
Q.#11) Hi Mark!
Yes, I do remember our show at “Three Rivers”, it was a great night. I tried to buy the Rolls Royce, but it was not for sale. As far as autographs, new releases, etc., you will have to check out my website; http://www.nealsmith.com
#12) from Dan L. Gherna
I’ve always considered the real estate and rock ‘n’ roll professions to have similar attributes, in terms of salesmanship, professionalism, and promotion. Do you see the similarities? How does your rock ‘n’ roll background help you relate to clients/customers?
Q.#12) Hey Dan!
Interesting question, an analogy of the rock n’ roll and real estate professions. I have not only been asked this question before, but I have made several comparisons myself. Obviously completely different, but they have some things in common. One example is image and dress very important in both fields. Marketing yourself can be one of the most creative and fun aspects of real estate and it goes without saying, the same is true in the music business. Attitude must be positive and energetic. Act professional like you eat, drink and sleep you profession because to be successful, as a musician or a realtor, you have to be consumed by it. Be masterful and knowledgeable of your profession, and always be aware of trends and changes. Both professions offer the same opportunity for men and women, which I think is and has been a very important aspect of each profession in my opinion.
#13) from Jeff Pike
I am curious to know exactly how Billion Dollar Babies (the band) came together and what the overall vibe was while the band was together. Also, what was the final straw for the dissolving of the band. One more thing, I have been trying to find photos and any video of Billion Dollar Babies in concert for years. You wouldn’t happen to have any tucked away that you might be willing to publish would you?
Q.#13) Hey Jeff!
After Michael Bruce’s (In My Own Way), Alice’s (Welcome To My Nightmare) and my (Platinum God) solo projects the ACG was to reform and do a new album. Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and I got together in Connecticut and started writing new songs for a new ACG album, but it was never to happen. So we stayed together called ourselves “The Billion Dollar Babies”, got a record deal and recorded “Battle Axe”. We were professional and the band was very up and energetic for recording and touring. “Billion $ Babies/Battle Axe” went on tour, but we were having problems with management, and shortly thereafter we broke up. As far as the B$B/Battle Axe show, to my knowledge there is no video of that great show.
#14) from Erik
Hi, Erik from Sweden here:
The photo of you on the cover of the “Platinum God” album is great. Tell me a little about it, when it is taken? Is it done especially for the album?
The photo with me wearing the zebra skin was taken in the Canary Islands in 1972 by Eillot Holceker. We came down from London to write the last song for the ACG album, Billion $ Babies and the song we composed was “Generation Landslide”, one of my favorites. We did a photo session, group and individual photos as usual. This zebra skin shot was just taken for fun with no special purpose in mind. The concept for “Platinum God” has been the same from the beginning in the mid 70’s, but I did not think of the cover art until I recently finished all of the music. The “Platinum God” cover with the vintage photo and new artwork, works perfectly with the concept. And then I included some photos inside, that I thought the fans would dig.
#15) from Tim Stradling
At the GBMW99 Dennis talked a little bit about new music being written with he and you, and that he had been speaking with Ezrin possibly looking for his thoughts on it. Can you comment on this?
Q.#15/1) Hey Tim!
I’m not sure of what your conversation with Dennis was exactly about, but Bob Ezrin is always looking for new musical material for the movies that he works on. So once in awhile we send music to Bob.
2) I also know there was some recording done with Joe Bouchard of BOC last year, and the CD is available. Do the two of you play on the Bouchard CD, or do you just have songwriting credits?
Joe Bouchard’s cd that you’re referring to is “The X-Brothers”. Dennis and I did not play on it but we wrote or co-wrote a few songs on the cd.
3.) Could you tell us a little more about these two projects? Specifically who else is involved, their style, and when they may be available?
The only project that Dennis and I are involved with off and on is with Joe Bouchard. We have written about 3 albums worth of songs in the last year or so. The only music that we have recorded to date are some original Christmas songs that may or may not be available by Christmas. They would be on Joe’s brother Albert’s label “Cellsum Records”.
#16) from Frank
Any chance of you returning full time to performing? Do you think there is any chance of the original Alice Cooper members recording together again?
Q.#16) Hi Frank!
In this world anything can happen. There’s no on who loves to play live more than I do, but I would really have to like the musicians that I play with. Since I don’t have to play, I have the luxury of waiting to play with musicians that I like. If it’s recording or touring, the original ACG would
never do anything together unless all four of us thought it’s the right thing to do.
#17) from Jeff Rondeau
1) I’d like to compliment you on your drumming style present on all the original ACG recordings. You and Dennis made a great and creative rhythmic team. Instead of just holding down the bottom end and keeping a beat the both of you contributed greatly to the compositions and above all helped make all those songs permanently etched in my brain. Who were your early influences and what, if anything, was carried over into your own playing?
Q.#17/1) Hey Jeff!
My early influences were Gene Krupa, Sandy Nelson, Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker, Ringo, Charlie Watts and last but not least Alex Dunthart and John Barry (producer).
Carry overs to my music: Krupa and Nelson solo tom-tom work, i.e.. Black Ju Ju and Slick Black Limousine. The great fills of Baker, i.e.. Under My Wheels. The great grooves that hold verses together like Ringo and Watts, i.e.. Caught In A Dream and Still Got A Long Way To Go. Mitch Mitchell’s hi-hat work, i.e.. Killer (intro). Keith Moons energy and showmanship, i.e.. Black Ju Ju. John Barry’s use of percussive dynamics and diversity, i.e..Halo of Flies, Killer, Unfinished Sweet, Grand Finale, Man With A Golden Gun. Alex Dunthart’s flawless snare technique, Second Coming. Just a few examples.
2) Did you manage to hold onto your old Slingerland’s ( the chrome set? ) and if so, do you play them currently?
I still have all of my drums, well over one hundred drums all total. I am currently restoring the chrome Slingerland and it looks great, but I do not play them. I have a double kick birdseye maple Gretch set I play now.
3) After all you’ve contributed rock music do you still actually practice or is time too hard to come by these days? Thanks for the opportunity to ask these questions Neal.
Dennis and I play a lot with Joe Bouchard (from BOC). We try to get together at least once a week to play and write songs. We have written about 3 albums worth of music in the past year and we’ve done a little recording also. If anything is released, information would be on my web site.
#18) from SkiBum91
Neal, can you give any insight on the Song “Hallowed By My Name”? How it came about or anything. It is somewhat similar to “Second Coming” in it’s religious reference and was wondering if you and Alice thought about doing something along that line together or if you both came up with your songs totally unaware of the other. Also, the way Dwight Fry blends right in from the end of SC, was this Bob Ezrin’s idea or one of you guys?
Q.#18) Hi SkiBum91
Yes, I composed the words and music for “Hallowed Be My Name” and Alice wrote “Second Coming”, they were two separate songs and stood on their own merits as did every other song on “Love It To Death”. I had a very religious upbringing and that influenced “Hallowed Be My Name” as well as “Apple Bush”, that I wrote on “Pretties For You”. As I’m sure was the case with Alice’s “Second Coming”. The two songs were conceived separately, as a matter of fact, I never thought about their similarities until you mentioned it. I would guess that Dwight Fry into Second Coming was Bob’s idea but I don’t know for certain.
#19) from Kevin Landreneau
Hi Neal, With the new music from you and Michael on the Cameron CD (excellent by the way ), Michael being active the last few years writing new music, performing, ect….your just released CD Platinum God, the reunions I’ve been hearing / reading about the last couple years, and Dennis playing in public after being out of sight for a while, is there any hope for a Billion Dollar Babies reunion? I was thinking this would be an excellent opportunity to perform the newer songs, plus maybe give some new life to the Billion Dollar Babies tunes. I was also thinking if not a tour, maybe just a show that could be taped for the fans who could not make it. Can you comment?
Q.19/1) Hey Kevin!
There is always a possibility of anything happening, but the reason for most of the recent reunions with Michael, Alice, Dennis and myself have been in Glen Buxton’s memory. At this point I can not even speculate on anything above or beyond that point. I would do anything for Glen’s memory or for the Alice Cooper Group fans of the world.
2.) Speaking of Dennis, How is he doing, and how is his playing these days?
Dennis is awesome as always! He was the highlight for me playing at Cooperstown for the “GBMW”. Dennis and I try to play once a week we usually play with Joe Bouchard (from BOC). He is feeling great and playing even better!
#20) from Sandra Brown
Hi Neal, What involvement did you have in putting together the boxset, The Life And Crimes Of Alice Cooper?
Q.#20/1) Hi Sandra!
Alice and I got together in 1992 and first discussed putting together the boxset. I then talked to one of our oldest friends at Warner Brothers Records and that was some of the first efforts to get the idea out there. It was a seven year project and after that point I was not to involved. As the boxset was being designed, I helped with a few photos from my personal collection and comments about the songs for the book in the box set. I think it came out great!
2.) What did you think of the show VH1 did on you guys, Behind The Music?
I was happy that the VH1 show had dedicated at least half the show to the ACG, I was very unhappy that there was no mention of Glen Buxton and believe me there was plenty of room to cut some stuff that had nothing to do with the band, to make mention of Glen. By the way if there would have never been a Glen Buxton there would have NEVER been an Alice Cooper Group.
#21) from: Vic
Neal, I live in Waterford/ Pontiac, Michigan… My brother Curt has pointed several times at an old warehouse building on Brown Road off Joslyn & I-75… He said you guys practiced and/or recorded there…? If so, do you remember the album/year that you where there, and a little history on, how you came about finding the place?
Q.#21) Hey Vic!
It is possible that the building that you are referring to, could be the barn that we rehearsed in when we all lived on Brown Road in Pontiac. If it is the same location, we lived there 1970 to 1971 and rehearsed for “Love It To Death” and “Killer”, with Bob Ezrin in that very barn. And to tell you the truth I have no idea how we found the house. Most of the time my sister Cindy and Alice’s girlfriend Cindy, would usually look at homes and properties for us. Without a photo I can not be sure, but chances are that it is the same place.
CHECK OUT (WWW.NEALSMITH.COM) FOR PLATINUM GOD, OUT NOW!
The end…The Glen Buxton Memorial Mailing List ( GBM ) 1999.