“Hey Paul… did you hear? Glen got pneumonia and passed away last night.”
I struggled to give Glen’s sister my condolences. Speechless and gutted, I hung up the phone.
The day MY music died.
Just one week after reforming with his old bandmates in Houston, Glen Buxton – GB – the Blonde Bomber – #90 on Rolling Stones’ list of all-time influential guitarists was gone at age 49. And so was my dream of seeing MY band perform. MY band was Alice Cooper. MY band was five unique, bedazzled, immensely talented characters.
I had gotten to know GB over the previous decade. Chatted once a month always ending the call with “I’m gonna find my way out to Iowa…” but never went. And now I was headed out to Iowa under the worst of circumstances. I met Glen’s family and Dennis, Michael and Neal. I learned from the funeral director that Glen’s estate could not afford anything beyond a basic grave marker.
I could not believe it. The Internet was young but the Alice Cooper fan base, affectionately known as “SickThings“, responded. Alice, Dennis, Michael and Neal all chipped in for their fallen brother. I designed Glen’s tombstone to capture his rebellious personality and his music talents – his most recognizable riff – his opening notes to “School’s Out” would connect with every musician who would visit his grave.
The guys continued to get together once a year to perform at Alice’s charity event – The Christmas Pudding Show – all in support of Alice’s Solid Rock Foundation and its mission to enrich the lives of underprivileged youth.
In the years that followed, Alice continued to tour and keep the band’s classic music fresh and in front of a new generation… Alice’s legendary performances continued to shine. A benchmark that will never be topped.
In 2010, as the guys were rehearsing for the annual Pudding show, they were interrupted by Alice’s assistant – “You’re in!”
In March 2011, the Alice Cooper group – MY band – was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Each band member made poignant speeches that gave thanks and recounted their history. In particular, drummer Neal Smith closed with:
“To all the Alice Cooper fans around the planet who have been supportive over the years… well guess what? Alice Cooper and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame have now collided and this statue is because of you… is about you and it is for you… thank you a f*ckin’ billion!”
In the aftermath of the Hall of Fame Induction, the Alice Cooper group performed at the Golden Gods Awards and did a 4-D video for a Jaegermeister event in London and the group received a songwriting Grammy for the perennial favourite “School’s Out”. The group released a massive school desk retrospective box set. The guys each submitted tracks for Alice’s “Welcome 2 My Nightmare” and the documentary “Super Duper Alice Cooper” was released.