As dusk settled in, the Vampires creeped out from the depths of the backstage, showing Clarkston, Michigan that they can do more than just drink booze.

Created by Alice Cooper in the 1970s, the Hollywood Vampires started out as a celebrity drinking club where one had to outdrink the other members before being allowed to join. In 2015, along with Johnny Depp and Joe Perry, Cooper formed a rock n’ roll supergroup, named after the club, to honor the music of the rock stars who died from excess in the 1970s.

According to Gary Graff of The Oakland Press, the band, Hollywood Vampires, was conceived by Cooper and Depp after filming a scene in the 2012 film adaption of Dark Shadows. They returned to Los Angeles with the idea of a musical tribute to the Hollywood Vampires.

With producer Bob Ezrin, they began working on cover songs by Led Zeppelin, the Who, Spirit, the Doors, Nilsson, Jimi Hendrix and more, as well as a few originals; “Raise The Dead,” “As Bad As I Am” and “My Dead Drunk Friends.” The band released their self-titled debut album in 2015.

On July 16, 2016, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Cooper and his band mates did their “Dead Drunk Friends” proud by blasting through a 90-minute-plus set of mostly covers, which any fan of rock or metal could enjoy.

The band lineup is an interesting mix of “who’s who” in music. Along with Copper is actor Johnny Depp on guitar, bassist Robert DeLeo (former Stone Temple Pilots), drummer Matt Sorum (former Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver), and keyboardist Bruce Witkin. Guitarist Tommy Henriksen filled in for Joe Perry who recently collapsed on stage at a show in Brooklyn, New York on July 10.

Cooper’s vocals were dead-on. He sounded great and provided the crowd with an enjoyable and fun evening full of great stories and excellent music.

Giving some history behind the Hollywood Vampires, Cooper told the crowd how they used to gather at the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Los Angeles. Keith Moon, Micky Dolenz, Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson were principal members, along with others such as John Lennon, Joe Walsh, Marc Bolan, John Belushi, and Keith Emerson. “Now they’re all gone. I’m the only one left,” Cooper joked to the crowd.

This show was not the typical Alice Cooper shock rock spectacle with explosions and beheadings. He described it as more of a “super bar band” show. Cooper still dressed the part but tonight’s emphasis was on the music and companionship of the band members on stage. These guys seemed to enjoy being on the stage together. There were smiles galore between them, aimed at each other as well as everyone out in the audience.

With his guitar hung low, Depp played the part of a rock star so well that you’d of thought he had been doing this his whole life! He had on the makeup and facial hair reminiscent that of the movie character he played, Capt. Jack Sparrow. Depp was personable with the audience and seemed in his element. This night, the stage was his home, and he invited his friends in the audience over to his house for beverages and good music.

It felt as if Joe Perry was there in spirit, too, as one of his guitars sat stage left in front of his amps. They dedicated their rendition of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” to Perry, while also asking the crowd to shout “Get well, Joe.” There were also photos of Perry displayed on the video screen during the band’s rendition of Tiny Bradshaw’s “Train Kept A-Rollin’,” which was later made famous by Aerosmith. Coz Canler, formerly of Detroit’s own Romantics, came out to play added guitar on this track.

The Vampires played a set filled with seventeen covers and three originals. The crowd had no problem singing along and seemed to enjoy hearing favorite tunes played in the Vampires’ amped-up good-time rock n’ roll form. “If we didn’t do any of your favorite covers, it’s because they’re not dead yet,” Cooper jokingly told the crowd during the encore.

Our photographer, Thom Seling, was on-hand to capture the fun. Here are his images from the night.

Hollywood Vampires
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Set List

  1. Raise The Dead (original)
  2. I Got a Line on You (Spirit cover)
  3. Rebel Rebel (David Bowie cover)
  4. Suffragette City (David Bowie cover)
  5. Manic Depression (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
  6. Five to One/Break On Through (To The Other Side) (The Doors cover)
  7. As Bad As I Am (original)
  8. 20th Century Boy (T. Rex cover)
  9. Bang a Gong (Get It On) (T. Rex cover)
  10. Come Together (The Beatles cover)
  11. 7 and 7 Is (Love cover)
  12. Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin cover)
  13. My Dead Drunk Friends (original)
  14. Ace of Spades (Motorhead cover)
  15. Pinball Wizard (The Who cover)
  16. My Generation (The Who cover)
  17. I’m Eighteen (Alice Cooper cover)
  18. Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith cover)
  19. Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Tiny Bradshaw cover)
  20. School’s Out (Alice Cooper cover) (“Another Brick in the Wall Pt.2” snippet)