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Friday, February 19, 2016

Hollywood Vampires Revive Classic Rock

Written by Jon Williams

The Grammy Awards ceremony on Monday night produced some incredible musical moments. From Taylor Swift’s opening number to Kendrick Lamar’s fiery performance (literally), the taste of Broadway’s Hamilton, Little Big Town’s haunting rendition of their hit “Girl Crush,” and more, there was something for fans all across the spectrum to enjoy. And then there were the tributes—the Eagles taking the stage with Jackson Browne to perform “Take It Easy” in honor of Glenn Frey, and Lady Gaga’s medley of David Bowie hits.

One of the more unexpected moments came late in the show when Alice Cooper took the stage with a band of familiar faces. Introduced by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, they first played an original song, then faded it into a cover of “Ace of Spades” in tribute to Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister. They did so with a brand of straightforward rock sound that was absent from the rest of the show and, indeed, has seemingly gone missing from the music world’s consciousness as other forms of pop music have come to the forefront.

The band is called the Hollywood Vampires, and this wasn’t just a one-off performance. A tribute in themselves to Cooper’s famous drinking buddies of the ‘70s, they formed in 2015 with principal members Joe Perry and Johnny Depp joining the singer. Their debut album featured contributions from such luminaries as Grohl, Joe Walsh, Sir Paul McCartney, and the late Christopher Lee. And while not technically full members of the band, they’ve frequently been joined, as they were on Monday night, by Guns N’ Roses associates Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum.

And of course, to score such an incredible list of collaborators, the supergroup’s actual members are pretty famous in their own right. Alice Cooper, of course, just finished up a supporting stint on Motley Crue’s final tour. He’s been at the forefront of the rock n’ roll business for decades. The same can be said of Joe Perry, lead guitarist for Aerosmith since 1970. The third member is something of a surprise, as Johnny Depp is known for his acting career, but it turns out he has some serious musical chops as well.

The Hollywood Vampires only have one album for now, but Cooper recently reported that he’s working on a follow-up, as well as perhaps a live album, as the band gets ready for its summer concert schedule. Make sure you have it on your shelves, as well as music from the band’s members, collaborators, and other similar acts to satisfy your rock-loving patrons as this style of music tries to regain its foothold in popular culture.

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