Alice Cooper Appears at the Rock Hall to Officially Open the New Pinball Machine Exhibit

click to enlarge From left: Dennis Dunaway, Greg Harris and Alice Cooper. - Halle Weber
Halle Weber
From left: Dennis Dunaway, Greg Harris and Alice Cooper.
Earlier today, shock rocker Alice Cooper and bassist Dennis Dunaway, who played in Cooper’s band, both of whom were inducted into the Rock Hall in 2011, stopped at the Rock Hall where they held a press conference to announce the official opening of the new exhibit, Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball.

The interactive exhibit showcases rock-themed, playable pinball machines as well as merchandise and artifacts that explore the "artistic portrayal of artists and bands."

“Rock ’n’ roll and pinball have an intertwined history and share a great commonality,” said Rock Hall CEO Greg Harris, who later shared a personal story about having seen Alice Cooper perform in the early 1980s. “They were both going to lead us down a path of destruction and damnation. And they were both a helluva lot of fun. Pinball machines bring rock 'n’ roll alive. [Like rock ’n’ roll], they’re loud and noisy and electric.”

The Rock Hall exhibit features the classic “Wizard” and “Tommy” pinball machines as well as the acoustic guitar that Pete Townshend used to compose “Pinball Wizard” and several other songs from the Who's Tommy.

Other items that’ll be on display include Alice Cooper’s newest pinball machine, Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle. Cooper himself narrates the classic horror adventure game that features a number of Cooper songs and a working guillotine set piece.

Cooper said the design incorporates elements from his first album, Pretties For You, and from every album since that debut. "The influence of the Frankenstein and Dracula movies just came out in the music," he said. "I always liked the fun of those black and white horror movies. There was a fine line between comedy and horror with those films. I remember watching Evil Dead, and I went, 'There can't be any more blood.' Right as I said that, he got hit by a pipe and blood splattered everywhere. I said, 'This is the funniest movie I've ever seen.'"

The artwork and an electric chair stage prop that Cooper used in his 1971 tour (and that Dunaway built out of two-by-fours) are on display as well.

“We took that chair on the airplane pretty much as it is,” said Dunaway as he talked about the Alice Cooper-related items in the exhibit. “On the back of the chair, you can see an Air India sticker. We got a lot of attention for it whether we were using it on stage or not.”

Cooper recalled wanting to play in a band in high school after hearing a Beatles’ tune and spoke about how he sought to introduce theatrics to rock n’ roll at the time when there weren’t theatrics in rock 'n’ roll.

“What we did back then looked very vaudevillian,” he said. “Parents hated us so much, and kids loved us because we were doing everything that their parents didn’t want us to see. We still keep that sense of fun in the Alice Cooper show.”

Cooper, who guaranteed that any 9-year-old kid could beat him at a game of pinball, then played the Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle machine. The first machine off the production line is the one at the Rock Hall.

Other pinball machines in the exhibit pay tribute to the Rolling Stones, Ted Nugent, Dolly Parton, Guns N’ Roses, Elvis, Metallica, KISS and AC/DC. The exhibit runs through spring of 2019.

After the press conference, Cooper and Dunaway participated in an interview with Sirius Radio’s Rachel Steele. “Cleveland rocks!” Cooper said with a first pump at the end of the interview, which was held on the Rock Hall's main floor in front of a crowd that filled the room.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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