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Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in The Alice Cooper Group

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  453 ratings  ·  97 reviews
"Before the world heard of KISS, the New York Dolls, Marilyn Manson, or Ozzy Osbourne, there was Alice Cooper, the original shock-rock band." -Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

As teenagers in Phoenix, Dennis Dunaway, bassist and co-songwriter for the Alice Cooper group, and lead singer Vince Furnier (who would later change his name to Alice Cooper) formed a hard-knuckles band tha
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 9th 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Sherwood Smith
Not long ago, when I was trying to explain to my thirty-something daughter how utterly mesmerizing the Beatles’ sound was . . . how do you characterize how something so familiar could sound new? My kids grew up with the Beatles being part of what is now called Classic Rock. Classic Rock! I can imagine the jaw-dropped horror of my shaggy-haired peers back in the sixties.

When I saw that one of the Alice Cooper band’s members had written a memoir I had to read it. Though I’d never liked their music
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
In 1977, Alice Cooper’s hit “You and Me,” a sappy ballad about a dismal middle-class romance that seems to take place entirely in front of a TV pulled up to a bed, lousy with popcorn, made me terribly uncomfortable. I was in junior high and liked my rock soft and tad treacly, but this was a bit much. Decades later I discovered the Alice everyone else had known all along--the darkly theatrical and self-parodying hard rocker touring with Judas Priest, the elder statesman in the dripping eye- liner ...more
Todd Martin
Apr 19, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I was a big Alice Cooper fan as a kid. In fact the first album I ever bought was Killer featuring Kachina the boa constrictor on the cover. I felt like his music went downhill and never recovered with Welcome to My Nightmare after he fired his original band and it was the last of his records I ever purchased and I haven’t listened to him since.

With this as a backdrop I thought I’d read Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in The Alice Cooper by Dennis Dunaway the group’s origina
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
As a long-time Alice Cooper fan, I was thrilled to see this book out there. I haven't read anything on the band before and I wanted to hear Dunaway's story of their beginning and the eventual split when Alice Cooper became the person and not the band. Dunaway doesn't disappoint and he lays out in detail the origins of the band as a group of friends and goes up to their stardom. Alice Cooper has a quote on the back about Dunaway being a surrealist and I think he's right because that's how the boo ...more
Bob Ignizio
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fun, breezy first person account by bass player Dennis Dunaway of how Alice Cooper (the band) came together, rose to fame, and broke up as vocalist Alice (aka Vincent Furnier) launched a solo career. Helps fill in some of the more glaring gaps and omissions in the recent documentary film 'Super Duper Alice Cooper', and gives the entire band, as well as other important figures like managers Shep Gordon and Joe Greenberg (who was unfairly left out of Gordon's own documentary, 'Supermensch'), produ ...more
Brian Cohen
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Truly essential for Cooper fans, and I can’t imagine anyone who enjoys rock bios not enjoying the ride from Phoenix high school through hell and back to become the biggest band in the world. Dunaway does an amazing job introducing the reader to each member’s personality... I never knew how much I missed Glen and what a tragedy his loss was. Better than Alice’s own “Golf Monster” and better than Michael Bruce’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by a mile, but it makes me want to read both again.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m not a fan of the band Alice Cooper and I’m certainly not a fan of Vince Furnier who burned his friends and bandmates by appropriating the name. But I like reading music biographies so now I know about snakes, guillotines, and electric chairs.

As a musician, I appreciate the author’s focus on the creation of the music rather than taking the opportunity to write a tattle-tell-all. His voice was endearing though corny, which is absolutely forgivable because he’s over 70 years old!

If you read th
Todd Glaeser
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So many memories. How transgressive the IDEA of a guy named Alice was at the time. I never realized how connected the AC group was connected to what I considered "60's groups" at the time. A fun and also melancholy (at times) look back at a hugely influential group.

Supposed to have received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads, but it never arrived.
Mar 31, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a fun read, tagging along with the creation of an historic rock group. From high school buds to rock stars you can feel the excitement of their early days and the heartache as things started to fall apart. This book adds to the Alice Cooper group mythos detailing many key moments from a different point of view. An excellent book for any classic rock fan.
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great read for any Alice Cooper band fans out there! I thought this would just be a re-hash of most stories I'd heard before, but it didn't play out like that at all. Nice to read about lots and lots of behind the scenes moments. Good times! ...more
Apr 21, 2022 rated it really liked it
Extremely interesting. I didn't know much about the Alice Cooper Group, and am honestly someone who always associated Alice Cooper as the current iteration - the man, so this was a fascinating read for me. ...more
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley to read and review.
SNAKES! GUILLOTINES! ELECTRIC CHAIRS! is a book by Dennis Dunaway, bass player from the original Alice Cooper group, and friend of Vince Furnier (or Alice) and Glen Buxton going back to their high school days at Cortez High School in Phoenix.

Dennis tells a complete story of the career of the band going back to their humble beginnings, and describes how even in their earliest existence as a band they weren’t yo
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Geez. Maybe I'm too old and too moral to be reading stories from my old rock music favs. This is significantly better than the debauchery infested "Me, Alice" from the early days, but I didn't enjoy this very much either. When I started reading it, it seemed to be focused on the music much more than the lifestyles and while it was more so than the aforementioned book, it still had plenty of gross shenanigans from hippie lives. I suppose this is to be expected. There is actually a lot about the m ...more
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
I'm just lukewarm on this memoir of the rise and fall of the Alice Cooper band, yet told through the eyes of only the original bass player. And maybe that one sentence is the crux of the problem I had with this: it felt very skewed. There are many mentions of his prolific contributions to songs (whether or not he had received credit) as well as his ideas for the live shows and while he does credit his band-mates for their ideas, there's still this feel in reading that his share of creativity was ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I won this book through Goodreads First Reads.

As someone who wasn't even born yet when the group Alice Cooper was coming about but have heard the hits all my life this book was quite an interesting read. I have to admit I'd always known Alice Cooper to be the man and not the band so it was nice to learn of how it all came about and the early days of the band that were known for the Shock Rock music scene and just how Vince became Alice.

The book starts off with the guys being just a bunch of reg
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The original Alice Cooper band will always be the best Alice Cooper. As I approached the end of this one, I was really hating that I had to leave the freaky world of one of the most awesome, adventurous bands ever. Dennis has a fun, slightly-trippy writing style that really made his book totally flow. This was a great read, and a real no-brainer for me, a huge fan of the band. Now back to blasting Pretties For You...
Dr. Satan
Feb 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Seriously one of the best music books I’ve ever read. Dunaway does a great job of laying down the rise and fall of Alice Cooper (the band) along with fascinating insight into Alice Cooper (the man) and the rock world of the 60s and 70s. Highly recommend this one.
Ronnie Cramer
Feb 03, 2016 rated it liked it
A fun and entertaining history of the Alice Cooper band as told by the bass player. Makes a nice addition/companion to NO MORE MR. NICE GUY by Cooper guitarist Michael Bruce.
Fred Rayworth
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been a huge fan of the Alice Cooper Group since their first album Pretties For You came out back in the day. I’ve read Michael Bruce’s book and when I heard about Dennis’s book, Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! My Adventures In The Alice Cooper Group, I couldn’t wait to read it. The thing is, I wasn’t aware it had come out so long ago! Since I discovered Dennis’s Facebook page, I became aware of this autobiography and as a devoted fan, I had to check it out.

Despite my built-in bias, I
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, nonfiction
Any time one individual purports to tell a story involving a group of people, particularly an extended story, there will be some question as to the accuracy of what is said. In the prologue to 'Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs...' Dennis Dunaway states that "I'm here to tell you about it as I remember it." Okay, fair enough.

This book follows Dennis, his friend Vince, and several others on a 10-year journey that took them from sharing a bag of tacos in the back of a station wagon in Phoenix,
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a good workmanlike chronicle of the beginnings (and the end, as bassist/author Dunaway experienced it) of the very outrageous Alice Cooper (the band, as opposed to the lead singer who was sly enough to legally take possession of the name) during the late 60s and early 70s.

Hard won success came to a high school band that any parent could hate with impunity, until the youth culture began its metamorphosis in answer to those magnificent and tumultuous times.

Follow Alice Cooper's journey o
Rock star biographies are a dime a dozen - and most aren't worth the dime. They are for hardcore fans only and are full of omissions, finger-pointing, and lame stories from years past. But the Alice Cooper Group always were originals. They were a band who had no one called Alice among their ranks - then they got an Alice - then they were a solo act that never officially broke up. Only in rock and roll could this happen. Add in their theatrics on stage, their hard-driving garage rock, strange att ...more
patrick Lorelli
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dennis Dunnaway who was the bassist in the Alice Cooper band describes the beginnings of first him meeting Vince Furnier who would later become the frontman and then the person we all know as Alice Cooper. Going back to there high school days and when they formed a band added members and then came up with the original guys who would play on their albums, at least the first seven. I had come across them in 71 when I was just 11 from an older friend thinking that it was their first record, I found ...more
I've been an Alice Cooper fan since high school and was excited to read this memoir from one of the original members. Outside the man who would embody the name and mythos, I knew nothing about the group and their rise to fame.

This is a treat for any fans of rock 'n' roll with plenty of familiar references. Albeit brief, there are mentions and interactions with such legends as The Doors, Pink Floyd, The Yardbirds, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, and many more during the initial struggle for stardom ou
Steve Coscia
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rarely does a book earn 5 stars. Keep reading to learn why this book does.

This book includes what most rock-n-roll autobiographies omit: How the music was conceived, written and recorded. The chapter that describes how Bob Ezrin and the band developed the "Love It To Death" album is priceless. This chapter details the songs plus each musician's playing style, their instruments, Ezrin's recording techniques and album's track sequence decisions. The band also discusses songwriting credits during t
Piper Gee
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Firstly, thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read 'Snakes! guillotines! Electric Chairs!' The following is my honest review.

To start off I am a fan of the Alice Cooper group. As a child in the eighties, I remember my parents sharing the albums on cassette tape with me and my brother very fondly. However, I didn't know a lot of the personal details of the band before reading this book.

I have to say, it was a lot of fun reading this book. When reading Dennis Dunaway describ
Joran Oppelt
May 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was the book that made it with me on our family trip to the mountains of Asheville, NC.

I’ve devoured the entire thing in three days. If I could time travel anywhere it would be the Summer of Love, 1969, when these guys came from Phoenix to invade San Francisco and Laurel Canyon.

Bonus: The truth about the “chicken incident” has finally been revealed. I knew it all along!

Thank you, Dennis Dunaway. You were the heart and soul of that group and remain one of the best bass players in history.
Apr 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Easy read, gets right to the point. Lots of info on the early Spiders/NAzz era, which is cool. Occasionally the "rock n Roll" antics get in the way of the story telling because i think the author feel sit needs to be there. Cool sstories about the Doors and Pink Floyd. Especially about the Yardbirds in Arizona in the 60's. Definitely gets bitter at the end about VInce/Alice taking the name. The sentence, "Alice Cooper was a group," occurs pretty constantly the last 60 or so pages. Still recommen ...more
Jul 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, 2021
I (surprisingly) found the pre-fame years of Dunaway's book much more interesting than the successful years culminating with 'Billion Dollar Babies' in 1973. Not surprisingly, Dunaway comes across as more than slightly miffed about the breakup of the Group in favor of "Alice Cooper" the superstar. Still, his casual, conversational, and humorous writing style made for a fun read about one of the most truly innovative bands in rock history. ...more
Stewart Sternberg
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have read a good many biographies about rockers but this seemed one of the more fun ones. It doesn't hurt that I'm a huge fan of the Alice Cooper band, but it's nice to read from a band member's point of view the experience of coming into prominence during the late sixties along with legends like Hendrix and the Doors. ...more
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