CHICAGO -- Veteran rocker Alice Cooper is touring the U.S. and Europe. But in
seven stops on two continents, he'll play only one song.
That's because this brief road trip isn't a concert tour but a promotional swing to publicize his
new box set, The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper. Cooper appeared at Tower
Records in Los Angeles on Wednesday and in Chicago on Friday before heading to
Farmington Hills, Mich., on Saturday and New York on Monday (May 17).
"You'd think you'd get tired of people telling their stories, saying, 'I saw you in '71 and took my
kids last year!' or 'I got kicked out by my mom for listening to you,' " Cooper said. "But I don't.
I like the connection."
His sole musical performance comes Monday night, when Cooper is to play
(RealAudio excerpt) on TV's "Late Show With David Letterman."
His last top-10 hit came 10 years ago, and his heyday is more than two decades behind him.
But the shock-rock icon, who can count Marilyn Manson among the legions of performers he's
influenced, has been met by hundreds of fans on the tour. They're clamoring for autographs,
photos and a few words with the star, who will continue the tour in the Netherlands, Sweden
Released in April, the four-CD box set goes back as far as the mid-1960s, featuring such hits
(RealAudio excerpt) and "School's Out" along with outtakes, demos and
B-sides. It also includes a new Rob Zombie remix of the 1996 Cooper/Zombie
collaboration, "Hands of Death (Burn Baby Burn)."
In Chicago an estimated 200 fans turned out to meet Cooper -- some arriving hours early to
secure a place in line.
"Every time we do an in-store it's a great turnout," said Cooper, clad in a black leather jacket
and gloves. "There's a lot of old albums [that fans] want to get authenticated."
First in line to meet him in Chicago was Ken Kariott, 36, of Lisle, Ill. He took the day off
and arrived at 10:30 a.m. for Cooper's 7 p.m. appearance.
The wait was worth it, Kariott said.
"It's like meeting an icon, someone you've admired," said Kariott, who has seen Cooper
perform a dozen times. "[It's a chance to] let them know they do something good."
And it's not just the fans who find the interaction gratifying.
"It's an opportunity to talk to fans," Cooper said. "Onstage, you have no connection -- you
look at them and play the songs, but you're insulated. Here, you make a connection."
Cooper received his fans at a table in the front of the store. As admirers filed past, pausing for
a handshake, a signature and a few words, others crowded around snapping photos.
In a room full of middle-aged men, the tanned and fit rocker looked younger than most of his
fans, though he was already a star before most of them were out of grade school. He told one
fan his youthful appearance could be credited to his golf game.
"He told me his handicap's a four," said Scott Baker, 42, of Berkeley, Ill.
"This is like a dream for me," Baker said. "I go back to Billion Dollar Babies (1973) with
Alice, and I've seen him 17 times since. I've always wanted to meet him."
Cooper's Saturday appearance at the Farmington Hills branch of Harmony House brought a
more eccentric -- and much larger -- crowd. The line began to form Friday evening, 24 hours
before Cooper's arrival, store manager Dan Mize said.
"We had about 900 people," Mize said. "One guy had a boa constrictor. A few people
brought their guitars, and one guy had his golf clubs. Someone had a crossbow signed -- I
couldn't quite figure that out."
But Cooper obliged.
"He was by far one of the nicest celebrities I've met," Mize said. "His management said he
had to leave at 8 o'clock, but he didn't leave until almost 9. Alice himself said he wasn't leaving
until he'd signed for everyone."