38 Years Ago: Alice Cooper Stages ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’ Tour
Kiss recently revealed that the staging for their upcoming tour will feature an enormous, fireball-spewing spider. And while the stage set is brand new, the idea is not — in fact, David Bowie‘s 1987 Glass Spider tour featured a huge spider set, and more than a decade before that, original shock rocker Alice Cooper used an oversized arachnid as part of his 1975 tour.
In 1975, Alice Cooper went from being rock’s most dangerous band to being a sanitized, vaudeville-meets-horror-films icon with the release of ‘Welcome to My Nightmare,’ the first solo album lead singer Vincent Furnier issued under the name Alice Cooper after taking the name of his former group.
He supported the new album with an ambitious tour that was specifically designed to introduce a more mainstream-friendly Alice Cooper persona to the masses, forgoing some of the gorier, edgier aspects of past live productions for a slick, almost cartoonish show that was produced, directed and choreographed by David Winters, who had previously choreographeded films starring Elvis Presley and Ann Margaret.
Framed as a nightmare experienced by a boy named Steven, the show included Alice Cooper classics like ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy,’ ‘I’m Eighteen’ and ‘School’s Out’ along with songs from the new album, staged in a slick multi-media production that featured filmed projections, four dancers, and elaborate sets and costumes. In the course of the nightmare Cooper encountered dancing skeletons, a faceless demon, a nine-foot cyclops and yes, enormous spiders (Take that, Kiss! Don’t think so, David Bowie!) during the song ‘Black Widow.’
And while Cooper’s spiders may not have been as high-tech as Bowie’s extravaganza, or the elaborate stage set Kiss have promised — in fact, they looked kinda like weird Muppets — it can still be rightfully said that he got there first in the classic rock world.
The Welcome to My Nightmare tour launched Cooper as a solo superstar, though he soon faltered with subsequent albums like ‘Alice Cooper Goes to Hell’ and went on to embarrass himself with an ill-advised ’80s foray into New Wave titled ‘Zipper Catches Skin.’ The tour was also documented in a 1976 concert film of the same name, which failed at the box office but has since become a cult classic.