Whether he planned it or not, solo stardom seemed destined to be thrust upon Alice Cooper after his namesake band gained a reputation – and no small amount of notoriety – for serving up gleefully ghoulish hard rock that draw from the era’s glam scene as much as it did from the entertainment industry’s time-honoured fascination with the macabre. “People would come and see us play and just assume that, as I was the lead singer, then I must be Alice Cooper,” the man born Vincent Furnier recalled for Louder in 2020. “Of course, later, when I would go solo for Welcome To My Nightmare, I’d really become Alice Cooper.”
Listen to ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ here.
“A degenerate who could powerfully influence the young and weak-minded”
Formed in 1968, the Alice Cooper band had dragged their brand of shock-rock to the top of the charts with the albums School’s Out and Billion Dollar Babies. With them came live shows drenched in (fake) blood as the band embraced outlandish stage props which would be used to “execute” their singer. As Welcome To My Nightmare proved, however, there would be life for Alice Cooper far beyond these nightly dances with death.
When the band broke up, in April 1974, Cooper saw an opportunity to push these early theatrics to their limits with a collection of new songs which themselves sprang from a soundtrack commission. “We were first writing for a film, then we were writing for a TV show,” producer Bob Ezrin told Record World in 1976. When the project fell through, Cooper and Ezrin found themselves “sitting on seven or eight good songs, or song ideas, based on a theme that was no longer important to us… [and] tailored some of the material we had written earlier for the Welcome… concept”.
Free to take the songs in any direction he wanted, Cooper fashioned Welcome To My Nightmare as a gloriously over-the-top ride through the nightmares of a boy named Steven. Setting his stool out on the album’s opening title track, Cooper welcomed listeners to “a nocturnal vacation” that would chart his protagonist’s “breakdown”.