Alice Cooper says he has a Jekyll and Hyde thing with his on-stage persona, which was on full view when the tour opened in Grand Rapids. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)
Alice Cooper isn’t used to being the opening act.
The theatrical performer’s shock rock spectacle has been a headliner since the early ’70s, but for Motley Crue’s final tour, Cooper made an exception. That doesn’t mean he and his band will tone anything down.
“We’ve never gone out as anybody’s special guest before,” said Cooper from a tour stop last week in Colorado. “We’re used to doing an hour and 50 minute show, and now we’re doing an hour ... you’re only doing 10-12 songs, but every song is in fourth gear.”
For this tour, which began last month in Grand Rapids, Cooper added new guitarist Nita Strauss for her heavy metal background.
“We said, this is a Motley Crue tour, we need someone (who can) shred. We found Nita Strauss and we listened to her play and we said this is what we need. We already have a classic rock, blues guitar player (Ryan Roxie) and Tommy’s (Henricksen) got the rhythm down. We needed someone with that modern shred.
“You’re going to get all the hits. You’ll get the straitjacket, you’ll get the snake, the guillotine, the Frankenstein,” the native Detroiter says, referring to his on-stage horror antics that have been keeping his fans enthralled for decades.
Cooper, 66, says his persona of Alice Cooper is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scenario.
“I’m talking to you right now, but on stage tonight I’ll be that Alice. I’m the only one who really knows him,” he says of his Hyde side.
He explores this dichotomy further in the recent documentary “Super Duper Alice Cooper,” which was produced by Banger Films, the same company behind “Iron Maiden: Flight 666” and “Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage.”
“Super Duper Alice Cooper” tells the band’s whole crazy story through old photos, videos and clips of the 1920s film “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” juxtaposed with commentary from Cooper, Iggy Pop, Elton John and others. “Super Duper” starts with Cooper’s move from Detroit to Phoenix as a boy, the creation of his stage character and the evolution of the band, starting from the late 1960s hippie scene and their early struggles to finding a base city — Detroit.
“Finally, an audience got it,” Cooper says in the film of his return to Detroit. “We got our standing ovation, and it felt like coming home.”
Cooper is part of the city’s rock ’n’ roll legacy, and he believes that its growing cultural scene, rather than manufacturing, will be the focus of Detroit’s next phase.
“I heard Detroit’s the No. 1 city in the country for bars and restaurants,” he says. (Esquire magazine recently named Detroit “bar city” of 2014.) “It’s always been a music city with the soul, and Motown and all the great rock bands.
“I’ve lived in Phoenix for 55 years and people ask me where I’m from, and I still say Detroit.”
He’s a super fan when it comes to our town’s sports teams, too, and considers legendary Tiger right fielder Al Kaline to be his favorite player.
“I have a great story: I was at a golf course about to tee off and somebody behind me said ‘Hey, there’s Al Kaline.’ I couldn’t hit the ball,” says Cooper, who has been known to golf six days a week. “Growing up in Detroit, he was my Mickey Mantle.”
After this tour wraps up, Cooper will take a few months off before focusing on his next year’s record. During the break, the “Godfather of Shock Rock” will become the grandfather of twin boys, who are set to arrive in December.
opening for Motley Crue
7 p.m. Saturday
DTE Energy Music Theatre
7774 Sashabaw Clarkston