School’s in for Alice – and he’d never have left
Alice Cooper has advised students on how to face life after their exam results, as he marks the 40th anniversary of his hit track School’s Out.
The shock-rock icon says it’s the only song he’s even been completely sure of in his career – and infamous public-decency campaigner Mary Whitehouse was the person who guaranteed it reached the top of the UK charts.
Cooper explains via the Huffington Post: “It’s the song that launched my band’s career – it’s every school’s anthem.
“I said, ‘If this isn’t a hit, I don’t belong in this business.’ It had every element: it was released when school was letting out, it was a summer song, it had that hook, it had the lyric. I would have been shocked if that wasn’t a hit.
“It was Britain that made it a hit. Mary Whitehouse banning us was publicity we couldn’t buy. All we could do was send flowers.
“At that time, School’s Out was very subversive compared to what was on the radio. Everything was pop-oriented, and here comes this song about kids saying, ‘Let’s blow the school up.’ Luckily no one took it seriously – but they got the point that every single kid in the world absolutely hated school on the last day.”
But Cooper says that, even though he wrote the lyrics for those who didn’t enjoy term-time, he wasn’t one of those students.
“I was Ferris Bueller,” he recalls. “I basically tan the school. You have to picture: we have the number-one band in Phoenix, Arizona, where a thousand kids are coming to see us. Three guys in the band are on the unbeatable track and cross-country team. We’ve got the jocks, we’ve got the rockers, the girls love us because we’re in a band. I’m going, ‘We own this school!’
“We had girlfriends doing our homework and the teachers loved us because we made them laugh. School was a piece of cake for me – not that I ever did anything. I was just the class clown. When I wrote the song I was like, ‘This doesn’t apply to me. I love high school. I’d spend the rest of my life here!”
Cooper reveals his own son recently graduated from university with honours, but is struggling to find the job he wants.
“He’s in a position which is way below what he’s capable of doing,” the musician explains. “But I said, ‘You have to start somewhere.’”
He says the lesson is: “Start wherever you can and be the best you can be.
“I think kids are starting to depend now on cleverness rather than knowledge. I’ve always said, from the beginning, you should specialise. Don’t be a general knowledge guy – be the best guy at one thing. Be in a position where they can’t live without you. Make yourself indispensable.
“If you’re in the general work pool you’re going to get lost, even if you’re got a degree. You have to be THE guy or girl.”
Cooper finishes: “One final thought: make some noise, will you? Someone I one knew used to say, ‘The squeaky wheel gets the oil.’ Good luck, my kiddies.”