Record Store Owner Chris Penn Reunites the Original Alice Cooper Band Resulting ‘Live from the Astroturf’ Up for Making Vinyl Packaging Award

Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times At Ridgemont High saved Brooke Shields from drowning, then blew the reward money to hire Van Halen to play his birthday party.

Chris Penn had a similar vision, although his was not for a fictional movie. A lifelong superfan of Alice Cooper since discovering the band’s Greatest Hits in his father’s LP collection, Chris was only 3 years old. The original Alice Cooper lineup, disbanded in 1974, and he eventually managed to get them to reunite and perform at his store, Good Records, in Dallas, Texas.

In 2013 Chris learned that Dennis Dunaway, the original bassist/songwriter, was writing a book, Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!, about his adventures with the Alice Cooper group. Two years before the book’s release, Chris contacted Dennis about doing a Q&A/book signing at his store. After much persistence from Chris, the bassist agreed to make an in-store appearance on Oct.6, 2015. Why that date? It was a day off in Dallas for Alice Cooper who was out on tour with Motley Crue. Alice Cooper was playing Hidalgo, TX, with his solo band the day before, and Chris knew Alice would have to come to Dallas for his day off, since a lot more golf courses exist in the DFW area.

Dennis then assisted Chris in getting Michael Bruce original guitarist/songwriter and Neal Smith original drummer/songwriter on board with the event. After having commitments from 3 of the 4 surviving members (guitarist Glen Buxton passed away in 1997), the stars aligned perfectly. The idea of Dennis, Michael, and Neal playing with Dennis arose. Chris then contacted Alice Cooper’s co-manager and assistant about the idea of Alice joining in during the Q&A portion. Dennis also brought it up to the AC camp as well. Everyone thought it would be perfect to have Alice surprise the crowd after the Q&A and signing and join the live set.

“There are no accidents. We were playing a show in Dallas and had a night off the same night Dennis, Neal and Mike were doing a signing down the street. The guys were doing a small show to promote Dennis’s new book. Of course, I was going to be there! We are all still close and I want to play with the original guys any chance I get!” — Alice Cooper”

Chris and the store went all out. Cutting a hole in the store’s office wall to create a portal for Alice to enter the store without anyone being the wiser, recovering the stage in pink astorturf, bringing in pro audio and video equipment to document the event, decorating the whole store with billboards of all the original band’s albums, balloons & panties to throw on the crowd during “School’s Out,” the whole nine yards. They brought arena rock to a record store for one night.It went off without a hitch. The band played brilliantly and had Cheshire cat smiles the whole set which wind up being their longest set since their last ever show in Brazil in 1974.

Having the foresight to capture the event for posterity, Chris realized something magical happened but had no idea of how significant until fan videos and news coverage went viral via social media.

The documentary, Live from the Astroturf, will be making its Los Angeles premiere on Oct. 14 at 9 pm at Making Vinyl at the W Hotel Hollywood the Main Ballroom with Dennis Dunaway present. The movie is currently on the film festival circuit.

Michael Kurtz, founder of Record Store Day, contacted Chris in 2016 if the event’s audio had been captured. Michael and Chris then contacted Shep Gordon Alice’s lifelong manager to get his blessing on releasing some of the songs from the night. Shep shared the tracks with Bob Ezrin (producer of Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, KISS). Bob was floored about the quality of the audio and the band’s performance, and mixed the tracks. He chose the songs, “I’m Eighteen” and “Is It My Body” for a Record Store Day 45-rpm release. Penn then enlisted Joe LaPorta to master the recordings. At the time, Chris couldn’t stop listening to David Bowie’s Blackstar, which Joe had mastered.

Penn spared no expense with the vinyl manufacturing and packaging, enlisting vendors Gotta Groove Records, Imprint Indie Printing, and Ross Ellis to bring “Live From The Astoturf, Alice Cooper” to life in grand fashion. The sleeve gatefold sleeve for both the single and LP is a foil-board jacket w/ hype sticker, metallic ink stamped numbered, 6 bonus 5”x7” double sided art prints, printed inner sleeve, double-sided credits insert DETAIL OF COLOR VARIANTS (1150 white, 1150 pink, 100 black, and 100 split color pink/white with autographed art prints by the 4 surviving original members).” The exquisite attention to detail pays homage to the band’s early 1970s aesthetics.

Alice Cooper’s Live From The Astroturf single was released on Black Friday Record Store Day November 25, 2016 and won a Making Vinyl Packaging Award for Best 45-rpm Package in November 2017 at our first event in Detroit. And now its full-length album from the same performance, released on Black Friday 2018, is up for the Best Record Store Day release on the morning of Oct. 15 at Making Vinyl.

Chris Penn’s feet haven’t touched the ground since October 6, 2015.

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