Dunaway, Dennis – Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! (Book Review)

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Reviewed: October 2015
Released: 2015, www.stmartins.com
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP


Subtitled ‘My Adventures In the Alice Cooper Group’,founding bassist bassist Denis Dunaway unleashes his autobiography.

Dennis Dunaway was the original bassist in the Alice Cooper group from the late 60’s to about 1975 and SNAKES! GUILLOTINES! ELECTRIC CHAIRS! is his autobiography and first book. Dennis Dunaway is the third member of the original Alice Cooper Group to write his autobiography, following Vincent Furnier’s book ME, ALICE in 1978 and Michael Bruce’s book, NO MORE MR, NICE GUY in 2001. In a really bad move, this book has exactly the same cover image as Michael Bruce’s book! The book is a manageable 290 pages and has about 20 black & white photos on glossy plates in the middle.

The hard cover looks good and it is a really fun easy read. Dunaway seemed to be one of the more stable guys in the band and he has tons of anecdotes and pretty clear memories of the early days. The book is not as much as his own full autobiography, it really does focus heavily on his life in the band from meeting Alice in High School in Arizona to about 1975 when it all fell apart. The tales of the early days are fascinating; the stories of high school life in the 60’s, the summer of love hanging out in LA, hanging with Frank Zappa, living on the farm in Michigan, meeting Salvador Dali and so many more. Dunaway sprinkles in a little bit of sex, drugs and rock and roll to add some spice to the tale. I’m sure he could have revealed a lot more about various addictions and dalliances, but preferred not to air any dirty laundry.

Dunaway express some regret but he is not bitter or angry about how the magical, stable line-up of ‘the band’ from 1969 to 1975 wrote and recorded seven albums, five of them platinum sellers. The final chapter is very interesting, how they all slowly drifted away, getting married, moving to different cities, buying homes and Vincent Furnier walking away into the sunset with his handlers, entourage and the character of Alice Cooper.

The book ends on a high note as the original dudes reunite for a performance at their induction to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Overall, Dunaway gave a sense of how much it really was a united band. There are still many people who do not understand or make the distinction between Alice Cooper (the character) Vince Furnier (the solo artist) and the original Alice Cooper band. Dunaway does a great job and this is an excellent slice of rock history.

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Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 290