Alice Cooper was more shocked than anyone when Joe Perry collapsed mid-song during a performance of the Hollywood Vampires. It was during a concert in Brooklyn that Cooper noticed Joe just wasn’t there anymore. Cooper found him lying on his back behind an amplifier. Alice told Rolling Stone how he felt in the moment.
“It scared the h**l out of me. The lyrics to [‘Raise the Dead’], the first song we played that night, go, ‘Cardiac, heart attack… they never feared the reaper,’ and I look around the stage and he’s gone. He was lying behind an amp on his back, and I went, ‘Oh, my God.’ We didn’t know what happened until after the show.”
Joe Perry had finally succumbed to the dehydration and exhaustion that had been overwhelming him for days. The tough veteran musician had hardly complained at all, so no one knew what Perry was feeling. Still, the road took all Perry had and he finally just passed out from exhaustion. Thankfully, it was not a heart attack or a stroke, but it is sobering to know that it could have been. The stress on his body must have been intense.
As Alice Cooper and Steven Tyler both know, the road can do that to a performer. It is hard to sleep and hard to find a time and place to eat amid all the other commitments. The stage it hot with lights and the sweat pours as musicians exert themselves trying to give the audience all they have to give.
Joe Perry had confided in Alice Cooper the night before that he had not eaten in two days. On the road, it can be hard to find the time to eat and even harder to find nutritious meals. Most touring musicians live on fast food at best and nothing at worst. It is not at all uncommon for them to go all day without food and then be too exhausted to eat after the show.
Alice told Rolling Stone he encouraged him to eat something.
“I said, ‘Man, you’ve got to know when to sleep. You’ve got to know when to eat on a tour.’ I think it just finally got to him. It was not a heart attack; it was pure exhaustion. They checked his heart and said his heart was actually very strong.”
Alice Cooper also explained that the Hollywood Vampires were in the midst of their eighth show in nine days. That’s a tremendous pace even for seasoned veterans like Cooper and Perry. Cooper commented, though, that the usual Aerosmith schedule was more like two shows a week, so Perry was way overbooked in comparison to what he is accustomed to. Although accustomed to touring, he was not accustomed to a show nearly every single night. Cooper explained the tour to Rolling Stone.
“I’m used to working an hour and 40 minutes or two hours, five nights a week. I was in shape and so was Johnny and everybody else. I think Joe was not ready for that kind of pace. We were doing 25 to 30 songs with no break.”
Joe Perry is 65-years-old and Alice Cooper is 68. While Hollywood Vampires is a relatively new band, Perry and Cooper have had long successful careers that have spanned about five decades. Cooper released his first album with his signature band in 1969. Perry was an original member of the band Aerosmith, which was founded in 1970, so these rockers know the drill. Still, the road can be punishing for young and old alike.
Alice Cooper expressed the part of being a star, very few music fans ever think about. While professional athletes have trainers, highly regimented diets and exercise programs to keep them in good health. Touring musicians could easily be compared to athletes, in terms of required endurance, sweat, and effort given out during a performance. Yet they spend their time traveling, not getting adequate sleep, eating either fast food or nothing and giving out tons of their raw power on stage.
Joe Perry and Alice Cooper should possibly take the tour dates a little further apart and make the future Hollywood Vampire tours a little easier. At least that seems to be what Steven Tyler was talking about as he explained to Rolling Stone how he was the one who always put his foot down against overbooking.
“It’s starting to scare me a little bit. I know my brother. … He’s always asking me to do three, four [Aerosmith] shows in a row, and I can’t. I’ll blow my voice out. I know how to maintain my career, my health and Joe’s passionate. I don’t think he knows how to. I think he’s out there and someone’s overlooking him.”
The Hollywood Vampires tour concluded with no further incident. Alice Cooper told Rolling Stone that Joe Perry has never been better since recovering from exhaustion. Sometimes forced rest is the only way to get someone with a lot of determination to slow down, but now he is fine.
Alice Cooper is accustomed to overbooked tours. At the conclusion of the Hollywood Vampire tour, he started his solo tour and doesn’t plan to let up or lose his momentum. Johnny Depp has wanted to be in a band for so long he is no doubt determined to tough out whatever situation he finds himself in. Joe Perry is now in good health after being forced to take a break.
Joe Perry, Alice Cooper, and Johnny Depp are the Hollywood Vampires, but long nights on the road are hard, even for vampires.
[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]