BY MIKE HUDSON
You take Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, singer Alice Cooper and actor currently in the middle of an outrageously messy divorce Johnny Depp and you’ve got the Hollywood Vampires, a supergroup that’s been playing so sold out audiences here and in Europe for the past year.
They’ll be taking the outdoor stage at the Seneca Niagara Casino and Resort a week from Friday, July 9 and, even with tickets starting at $50, the show will likely be a sellout as well.
Longtime friends, Cooper, Perry and Depp started playing together last year mostly for fun, planning a few club dates in Los Angeles. The response was overwhelming and, this year, they booked a major tour of Europe and North America.
They named the band after an early 1970s drinking club Cooper had been a member of, along with other heavy drinking musicians like Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson and Marc Bolan. A lot of those guys are dead now, and Cooper wanted to pay tribute to them both with the name and the song selection.
Things had barely gotten underway in May when Depp’s mother died. A couple of days later, his wife, actress Amber Heard, filed for divorce, took out a restraining order against him and went to the press, telling tales of drunkenness and cruelty.
Rhythm guitarist Depp soldiered on, didn’t miss a gig and even though he’s the least musically proficient member of the group, hey, he’s Johnny Depp.
Since his breakout 1971 classic “I’m Eighteen,” Cooper has been a rock and roll icon with a track record very few performers can match. Gold and platinum albums, Top 10 hits and packed concerts generally held in the biggest sports stadium available in any given city have been his lot in life for the past nearly half century.
His vocals remain strong, and he remains an icon.
Critics have called Aerosmith “America’s Rolling Stones” and, while you can debate whether or not they deserve that title, perhaps the biggest part of the group’s unique sound has been the guitar wizardry of Joe Perry. Since their double platinum, self titled 1973 debut album, the band hasn’t looked back, and continue to record and tour.
The Hollywood Vampires sound is definitely hard rock, somewhere in the groove between punk and metal where a lot of great players end up. They do a lot of covers, everything from “My Generation” by the Who to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” along with a heaping helping of Cooper’s back catalogue, but there are new numbers as well, culled from their debut album.
One of the new songs, “My Dead Drunk Friends,” is yet another tip of the hat to the original Hollywood Vampires.
It’s fast fun and loud. Seeing them live, you get right away that they’re good friends out having a good time, which is – or should be – what rock and roll is all about.