“Golden years, sobriety and rock ‘n’ roll!”
Doesn’t sound like much of a rallying cry, does it?
And yet, at the Hollywood Vampires’ second of two nights at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood on Thursday, there was something undeniably rock ‘n’ roll about watching Alice Cooper, now 67, his snaky black hair still shoulder length, still wearing tight leather pants and gloves, screaming out “Hope I die before I get old!” while flanked by 65-year-old Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and 51-year-old former Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan.
“We’re here to salute our dead, drunk friends,” Cooper announced as the lead-in to “My Dead Drunk Friends,” the closing track from the just-released “Hollywood Vampires” album on which ringleaders Cooper, Perry and Johnny Depp have enlisted a host of eminent rock star pals for a session of big-name rock-star karaoke.
That original contribution aside, the album consists of classic-rock songs from a bevy of musicians, many of whom were part of the loose L.A.-based collective known in the ‘70s as the Hollywood Vampires for their late-night carousing, and many of whom are no longer with us because their addictions took them down.
The new-generation band as cobbled together for the Roxy shows -- from which proceeds (as with those from the album) are being donated to the Recording Academy’s MusiCares organization that helps musicians in need -- featured Cooper, Depp, Perry, McKagan and another former GNR alum, drummer Matt Sorum, plus Depp’s bandmate Bruce Witkin and Cooper’s current guitarist Tommy Henriksen.
Movie-star status notwithstanding, Depp dutifully strummed and slashed at his electric guitar, but left all the vocals to others, smiling and nodding to acknowledge the delighted screams of the women in the house, who were outnumbered by men about three-to-one at this hard-rock blowout .
The guests were largely the same both nights: Rage Against the Machine/The Nightwatchman guitarist Tom Morello, Jane’s Addicton front man Perry Farrell, pop star Kesha, with Marilyn Manson joining on Thursday after being introduced by Cooper as “my evil little sister.”
It was all in good fun, the music fittingly thunderous, the riffs monstrous, the solos suitably over the top. Morello couldn’t have looked more delighted appearing to make his guitar squeal during Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression.”
Farrell was enthralled trading verses with Cooper during Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire,” and Kesha got to flex her macho rocker chops singing Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”
With no sax player in sight, Perry was only too happy to step up for the grand finale solo in the closing number, the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar.”
Shortly before that, though, they trotted out one of Cooper’s signature hits that doesn’t appear on the album, as if to demonstrate again the timeless and ageless appeal of cranking music to 11.
This group of rockers long past their adolescence banded together, happily belting out “I’m Eighteen.” So when was rock ‘n’ roll ever bogged down by truth in advertising?