Published by Thomas Dunne Books, 2015
As the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame says: “Before the world heard of KISS, the New York Dolls, Marilyn Manson or Ozzy Osbourne, there was Alice Cooper, the original shock-rock band.”
When Alice Cooper became the stuff of legend in the early ’70s, their shows were monuments of fun and invention. Riding on a string of hits like “I’m 18” and “School’s Out,” they became America’s highest-grossing act, producing four platinum albums and hitting number one on the U.S. and U.K. charts with Billion Dollar Babies in 1973. Their utterly original performance style and look, known as Shock Rock, was swiftly copied by countless bands. Dennis Dunaway, the bassist and co-songwriter for the band, tells a story just as over-the-top crazy as their (in)famous shows.
As teenagers in Phoenix, Dennis Dunaway and lead singer Vince Furnier, who would later change his name to Alice Cooper, formed a hard-knuckles band that played prisons, cowboy bars and teen clubs. Their journey took them from Hollywood to the ferocious Detroit music scene, along the way adding new dimensions of rock theater. From struggling for recognition to topping the charts, the Alice Cooper group was entertaining, outrageous, and one-of-a-kind.
Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! is the riveting account of the band’s creation in the ’60s, strange glory in the ’70s, and the legendary characters they met along the way.
"I still consider Dennis Dunaway to be one of my best friends. Dennis is one of the few true surrealists that I've ever met….This book carries on in Dennis' own private surrealistic world." Alice Cooper
"Dennis Dunaway's book brought me right back to those days in Laurel Canyon. So many times, people ask me 'what was it like in the 60's?' I give them a blank stare and say 'if you can remember it, you weren't there' or 'uh, I forget,' or 'it was great'…Well now I'll just tell them to read Dennis' book." Robby Krieger, song-writer and guitarist for the Doors.
"Lived it, lost it, read it and loved it to death!" Michael Bruce, founding member, Alice Cooper Group
"Dunaway's upbeat tone and flair for story-telling life this work a step above the average musical memoir. Recommended for music historians, children of the 1970's, and, of course, Cooper fans." Library Journal
"Dunaway... has produced one of the most vivid and entertaining rock memoirs." Connecticut Post
"The book is written with wit, intelligence and a genuine affection and respect for all of Dunaway's conspirators and co-offenders...Dunaway's compelling style places the reader right there in the passenger seat of the band's smoke-filled, beer-drenched station wagon as they careen across America." -New Castle Herald, Australia
"For a fan of the Alice Cooper band, as I have been since my adolescence in the 1970s, Cooper bassist Dennis Dunaway's first-hand account of the group's humble beginnings, heady triumphs and arguably inevitable implosion is gripping stuff." Michael J. Fox, New York Times bestselling author of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future
"What Dunaway does brilliantly is show us the true essence of himself, Cooper, Smith, and guitar players Michael Bruce and Glen Buxton as real people: silly jokes and goofball pranks, temper tantrums and braggadocio, alcohol and egos – all captured without the over-exaggeration that often infiltrates published memoirs. It’s almost like reading a diary with the detailed “nasty” parts erased to trigger the imagination, allowing what was really meaningful to stand out. In this case, that being the conception, gestation and cessation of a band that changed the music world." -Glide magazine
“Dennis vividly details in the first person how the Alice cooperative of five endearingly misfit pioneering adolescents put the Woodstock generation to rest.” —Huffington Post
“A visit to the magical, blood-spattered world of the Alice Cooper Group, courtesy of Dunaway, the band's bassist, co-songwriter and "theatrical conceptionalist."... the book is more than just an homage to his old friend; it's a love letter to an era... An affectionate, sharp-eyed memoir.” —Kirkus
Dennis Dunaway was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 as a founding member of the band named Alice Cooper. Dennis also won a Grammy for co-writing “School’s Out.” The original Alice Cooper group have sold millions of singles and albums and were on the cover of Forbes for having the largest grossing tour in 1973 over Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. And they are in the Guinness Book of World Records for largest indoor audience of an estimated 12,000 to 148,000 in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1974. The Billion Dollar Babies album reached number 1 in America and Britain, and the group are recognized as the innovators of theatrical rock shows, which included giant balloons, hangings, snakes and spidery eye makeup. The group’s movies are Diary Of A Mad Housewife, Good To See You Again: Alice Cooper, and Super Duper Alice Cooper. Dennis’ book, Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures In The Alice Cooper Group has been translated into German, and the audiobook, narrated by Dennis, is available at Audible.com. Dennis currently records and tours with Blue Coupe featuring Joe and Albert Bouchard of Blue Öyster Cult fame and singers Tish and Snooky of Manic Panic. The original Alice Cooper group recorded 3 songs on Alice’s Welcome 2 My Nightmare album, and re-recorded “School’s Out” with Joe Perry and Johnny Depp for the Hollywood Vampires album. The Alice Cooper group reunited to record several songs on Alice’s new album Paranormal produced by Bob Ezrin. The original Alice Cooper group toured the United Kingdom in November 2017.
Cindy Dunaway brings a unique perspective to the history of the Alice Cooper band: Not only did she imagine, design and construct the elaborate, ground-breaking costumes, she was an integral part of the family from the beginning. She is the sister of drummer Neal Smith and wife of bass player Dennis Dunaway (they married in 1974). She saw it all.
Chris Hodenfield has been writing about pop culture since 1969. In his 12 years with Rolling Stone magazine, he wrote several notable features about the likes of Marlon Brando, David Bowie, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. As a young staffer, his first cover story for the magazine was based on his travels with Alice Cooper group in 1973 on the band’s Killer tour.In addition to writing for Playboy, Look and the Los Angeles Times, he was the editor of American Film magazine.