Alice Cooper welcomed Bonnaroo to his nightmare this year, and it's turned into a dream scenario for the veteran shock rocker.
A consensus choice as one of the festival's best performers, Cooper-whose show features his trademark mock execution, four decades' worth of hits, plus a surprise cover of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way"-has enjoyed a strong post-Bonnaroo buzz. On the road this summer with Iron Maiden, he feels like he turned on a new generation of fans.
"We're viable now," says Cooper, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. "I'd love to play Bonnaroo again. I'd love to play Coachella. For some reason, somebody like Iggy Pop has got more of a grass-roots thing going. He's a little more earthy. They can understand Iggy a little bit. They can understand Lou Reed, the Beach Boys. We're a little more un-earthy."
The Bonnaroo spot came about after Cooper's manager of 43 years, Shep Gordon, told him, "We've got to play something we don't normally play, somewhere we feel a little out of place. You have to break new ground." Cooper agreed and, what's more, he had a blast.
Gordon says the Bonnaroo experience offered "a chance to show that crowd you're actually allowed to have fun when you're listening to great music. You don't have to just close your eyes and nod your head."
John Dittmar, Cooper's agent at Pinnacle Entertainment, says the festival resulted in an amazing career boost for the 64-year-old performer. "It hasn't opened new doors-it's opened new sides of walls," he says. "We got lots of mileage just being confirmed for Bonnaroo, so the benefits of him being on the bill have already paid off tenfold."
In terms of quantifying the success, Cooper was averaging between 1,100 and 1,500 new followers each day on major social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) before the festival, according to Next Big Sound. He rose to 1,600 new followers the day after the festival ended June 11 and spiked to 3,000 on June 12, with the latter his highest single-day total for the past three months.
Cooper-who also hosted an afternoon talk at the festival about his late friend Groucho Marx before a screening of the Marx Brothers classic "Duck Soup"-theorizes that being a bit of an odd-man-out was crucial to his successful Bonnaroo appearance. "I don't think a lot of these kids had ever seen a real 'rock' show-hard rock all the way, with the theatrics," he says. "So we gave them the full-out Alice Cooper show, and they dug it."
The metal pioneer says the caliber of the show also benefited from having his wife, choreographer/dancer Sheryl Cooper, and producer Bob Ezrin review rehearsals and make suggestions for improvements. Cooper says, "We'd run through the show twice a day for six days and take notes, and on the last two days we'd do all the cleaning up. It paid off. I've done millions of shows, but I don't think I've ever done shows this tight, where everything works perfectly every night."
Cooper says it's too early to tell if a new crowd will come see him this summer, since he's billed as Iron Maiden's "special guest" rather than headlining. But he hopes the Bonnaroo buzz serves him well this fall, when he launches a different concert based on last year's "Welcome 2 My Nightmare" sequel album.
"We're going to put an entirely new show together," Cooper says. "It's going to be fun."