Concert - What Music They Make

Hollywood Vampires

Steve Taylor-Bryant waxes lyrical about all things Hollywood Vampires related and discusses Drummers and Bass Players…

Tribute albums and cover versions are nothing new in music, I myself started my musical experience on stage with a covers band and even when I migrated to a band that wrote our own material we still did covers live as the crowd loved our interpretation of some classics. The difference between the Hollywood Vampires album and the usual run of the mill covers LP is there is a story, a proper Rock 'n Roll tale of debauchery and death. In the (in)famous Rainbow Bar and Grill in Los Angeles during the 1970's there was a group of musicians from various bands that would come together and drink until there was nothing left. The staff of the Rainbow nicknamed them the Hollywood Vampires as they only came out at night to drink. Such luminaries as John Lennon, John Belushi, John Bonham, Jimmy Hendrix, and Jim Morrison joined Alice Cooper, Keith Moon, Mickey Dolenz and Harry Nilsson and could be found there laughing and drinking most nights but as time wore on sadly most of the usual crowd passed away. The toll the lifestyle took on them was too much, some were assassinated and a few saw the error of their ways and cleaned up their act. Forty some years later original Vampire, Alice Cooper, teamed with Aerosmith axman Joe Perry, himself a frequent visitor to the Rainbow, and Actor Johnny Depp, who has his own history with the lifestyle and clubs in Los Angeles, to record a record that would showcase the amazing talent that had been around that group of Jack Daniels lovers.

Friend of Depp and Cooper, the wonderful Christopher Lee, narrated The Last Vampire as the introduction to proceedings, ending with the line 'Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make' which launches into the first of two original tracks, Raise the Dead and, whilst I was going to make this a straight album review, I now can't as I made the mistake of going on YouTube while I was having a coffee and watched the set from the 2015 Rock in Rio festival. You see, as a drummer from a very early age, I have been influenced by many, Moon and Bonham amongst them, but these were individuals, talented men that I wanted to play like, that taught me I could do more than just hold a beat, that I could put fills in places they might not fit, that I could experiment. The problem with that is how do you get reined in? The answer is the bass player. You become a tight unit as the back line of the band, a drumming and bass team that can rock it with best, entertain, but yet be solid enough to let the guitarist do his widdly bit and get the girls whilst you go to the bar. The greatest exponent of the tight back line in my very right opinion started in Guns n Roses and was Duff McKagen and Matt Sorum which brings me back to the Hollywood Vampires as Sorum and McKagen are the live back line. Whilst the album had some great special guests on drums, with the likes of Zac Starkey and Dave Grohl, it was always going to be a glorified jam night if you did that live. You needed to be a band, you needed to be rehearsed, you needed to make it look effortless and with the core of the band live being Depp, Cooper, Perry, Sorum and McKagen it was as effortless as you'll ever see in a live show.

Matt Sorum Duff McKagen Hollywood Vampires

The album was recorded live, no overdubs or elaborate production effects, just a room with musicians in it and that classic feel transferred well to the stage.

Depp is a great guitarist and has both the vibe and look of an Izzy Stradlin whilst Perry looks and sounds every bit the rock star he is. Cooper struts the stage like a young man, snarling his lyrics and completely belying his 67 years. The tracks from the album all work well live and, for My Generation, Sorum takes a rest as Zac Starkey joins the band, before duetting drum duties with Sorum on a few more tracks and taking on percussion for the rest. Whole Lotta Love saw guest vocal duties switch from album singer, ACDC's Brian Johnston, to the wonderful Lizzy Hale of Halestorm and my word can she rock! Stunning vocals, great guitar all backed by Cooper's harmonica and the Led Zeppelin classic instantly becomes a live favourite. During Cooper's own School's Out the band are joined by Andreas Kisser of Sepultura and Anthrax fame and one of Brazil's own which whipped the crowd into a frenzy and added yet more atmosphere to an already vibrant concert. My personal favourites though do not differ live from the album and are the lyrically perfect songs of Jim Morrison and The Doors as the band play One In Five and Break on Through

Joe Perry Johnny Depp Alice Cooper Hollywood Vampires

I liked the choice of songs and stars on the album (full list below) and had already started thinking of titles the band might record for a follow up album because there will be one! The Rock in Rio show gave a few glimpses of what could be coming with Seven and Seven Is by Arthur Lee and originally recorded by Love in the 60's, The Who's I'm a Boy, Brown Sugar from the Rolling Stones, and a beautiful mix of Cooper's Billion Dollar Baby and the Perry driven Train Kept a Rollin by Tony Bradshaw that has become synonymous with Aerosmith over the years. Whether the stars and their schedules allow them to keep their wish of playing in Europe soon remains to be seen but if you have 50 some minutes spare cast your eyeballs on the concert, treat your ears to the album and become a Vampire.


Album tracks and stars…

1. “The Last Vampire”
Narration: Sir Christopher Lee
Keyboards and Sound Design: Johnny Depp, Bob Ezrin and Justin Cortelyou

2. “Raise the Dead” (Johnny Depp, Bruce Witkin, Tommy Henriksen, Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Rob Klonel)
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Background Vocals: Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen, Bob Ezrin

3. “My Generation”
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Drums: Zak Starkey
Background Vocals: Tommy Henriksen,

4. “Whole Lotta Love”
Vocals: Brian Johnson, Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Walsh, Johnny Depp,
Orianthi, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Harmonica: Alice Cooper
Drums: Zak Starkey
Bass: Kip Winger
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Backing Vocals: Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen

5. “I Got a Line”
Vocals: Alice Cooper, Perry Farrell
Guitars: Joe Walsh, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Abe Laboriel Jr.
Bass: Kip Winger
Background Vocals: Perry Farrell, Tommy Henriksen, Bob Ezrin

6. “Five to One” / “Break on Through”
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Robby Krieger, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Drums: Abe Laboriel Jr.
Farfisa: Charlie Judge
Bass: Bruce Witkin

7. “One” / “Jump Into the Fire”
Vocals: Alice Cooper, Perry Farrell
Guitars: Robby Krieger, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Dave Grohl
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Keyboard: Bob Ezrin, Bruce Witkin
Programming: Tommy Henriksen

8. “Come and Get It”
Vocals: Paul McCartney, Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Perry, Johnny Depp
Piano: Paul McCartney
Drums: Abe Laboriel Jr.
Bass: Paul McCartney
Background Vocals: Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, Abe Laboriel Jr., Bob Ezrin

9. “Jeepster” Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen,
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Background Vocals: Bob Ezrin

10. “Cold Turkey”
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Background Vocals: Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen

11. “Manic Depression”
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Walsh, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Drums: Zak Starkey
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Piano: Bob Ezrin

12. “Itchycoo Park” Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Background Vocals: Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen, Bob Ezrin

13. “School’s Out” / “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2″
Vocals: Alice Cooper, Brian Johnson
Guitar: Slash, Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Neal Smith
Bass: Dennis Dunaway
Background Vocals: Kip Winger, Bob Ezrin

14. “Dead Drunk Friends”
(Johnny Depp, Bruce Witkin, Tommy Henriksen, Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin)
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Johnny Depp, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Piano: Bruce Witkin, Bob Ezrin
Background Vocals: Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin, Bob Ezrin

Image – Matt Sorum.com/YouTube.