Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, And Joe Perry: Hollywood Vampires’ Advice To Young Musicians [Opinion]

Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry of Hollywood Vampires offer some advice to a new generation of musicians. Johnny, Alice, and Joe have been in the music business for a long time.

Alice Cooper is quick to acknowledge that the music business has changed, and not necessarily for the better. Upcoming musicians are certainly coming into a different scene than these guys were met with in the 1960s and 1970s, and even the 1980s.

Still, Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, and Johnny Depp have been part of rock music consistently over the decades. Cooper, Depp, and Perry know what it took in the 1970s and 1980s, and they see the problems besetting new musicians in 2017.

Johnny Depp has been in the music business since around 1980, but that seems to be a little-known fact until recently. Johnny started out in music but got discovered as an actor.

Alice Cooper, originally of the band Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry of Aerosmith fame have been in the rock and roll business since the 1960s, and they are still among the most successful musicians around.

Johnny Depp Talks About Developing His Musical Skills

Johnny Depp has always been a phenomenal guitarist. Depp has continually worked in music, asking for no glory. Johnny Depp has contributed to various band’s albums and filled in on live performances whenever he’s needed.

Johnny Depp developed his skills first, starting at age 12, with a $25 guitar and a cheap amp. Since then Johnny Depp has devoted his life to playing music. Acting started as just a side gig to pay the bills.

Johnny Depp is quoted in Team Rock explaining how obsessed he was with music from an early age.

“But when I found guitar, from that moment on, like, I don’t have any memory whatsoever of puberty. None. Because I just literally locked myself in my bedroom and paid attention to the records, and I learned stuff.”

Alice Cooper Sees Playing Live A Lot Before Recording As Vital

Alice Cooper recently did an interview with Forbes that might shed a bit of light on what young musicians can do now to help their careers. The first point Alice Cooper makes is the importance of live performance, long before the band hits the studio.

“We would have a nine-hour rehearsal and eight hours were on the music. If you didn’t have the cake, then you can’t put the icing on it. If you weren’t a great live band, you didn’t belong in the studio.

Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, and even Johnny Depp came up in the bar band era. A new band could expect years of playing in seedy bars before getting a shot at the big time. It was a tough way to earn a living at times, and the pay wasn’t great, but Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, and Johnny Depp, as well as virtually all successful rock bands of the 20th century, got their start playing small venues.

Alice Cooper told Forbes that bands don’t get the kind of experience he, Johnny Depp, and Joe Perry got in their day, and so they are overwhelmed when they finally do perform in public.

“But I don’t know if that happens anymore. I think the bands are just going to the studio. And when you put them in front of an audience, they are like a deer in the headlights.”

It Wasn’t Always Easy For Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, And Joe Perry

Alice Cooper and Joe Perry paid their dues before they hit the big time. Likewise, Johnny Depp played bars in Florida before coming to Hollywood. Johnny Depp got nearly starved out in the tight competition for gigs in the early 1980s, though he probably didn’t get down as far as the legendary Jim Morrison of the Doors, who was homeless, living on Venice Beach, and literally not getting enough to eat before he made it.

Johnny Depp eventually met Nicolas Cage who suggested Johnny give acting a shot and the rest is history. Making friends has always been Depp’s biggest talent of all. Prior to 2000 most bands started out playing clubs, bars, and other small venues.

Johnny Depp told People that he had to pay the rent, so he went into acting.

“I needed to pay rent,” said Depp. “Somebody said, ‘Why don’t you go meet an agent. My agent is with Nick Cage,’ so she sent me on an audition for something and I got it.”

Alice Cooper Says Passion Is Everything

Alice Cooper singing with his band
Alice Cooper singing with his band [Image by Jesse Grant/Getty Images]

Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry come from a time when rock music was about passion. Alice Cooper told Forbes that some of the new music lacks drive and passion.

“I don’t understand why young bands don’t want to be outlaws. I don’t understand why young bands want to be anemic. I hear a band and they go (initiates whiny singing voice) ‘oh, oil’s bad.’ Do tell me about your girlfriend, that is what rock is about. Tell me how you killed her, hate her or love her. Every great rock record is about your girlfriend.”

Joe Perry Says He Plays Every Show As If It’s His Last

Joe Perry of Aerosmith’s natural instinct is to always keep on playing no matter what, but at the same time play every show as if it is your last chance. Joe Perry, when asked if this would be Aerosmith’s last tour, told the Rolling Stone how his musical passion works.

“It could be the last. But it’s really hard for me to imagine a last gig. Sorry. It will probably be called the final tour, but I play every night like it’s the last show anyway. Calling it that will definitely give a different flavor to this. … And who knows what’s in the stars.”

While Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, and Alice Cooper have been in the music business for many decades, even they don’t always know what is coming next. Experience has taught each of them in different ways that the future is uncertain.

For Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry, passion for the music is not uncertain though. That passion will pull them through whatever the future holds.

Alice Cooper Says Being An Extrovert Is A Must

Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry are all passionate men — expressing that passion through music is what they do — but as Alice Cooper pointed out, being afraid, like “a deer in the headlights,” can make it hard to seem passionate. Rock music is about being bold, and even confrontational.

Alice Cooper has always thought musicians should stay out of boring pursuits like politics. Music should be exciting and extroverted, not PC. Rock is the opposite of PC in most ways, especially for a shock rocker like Alice Cooper.

“I couldn’t care less about your politics. It is so introverted right now, whereas rock in the 1970s was extroverted. Everything was about grabbing the audience and pulling them in. Now it is like, ‘I am here and I hope you like it tonight.’ That’s not really rock ‘n’ roll.”

Johnny Depp And Alice Cooper Get By With A Little Help From Their Friends

Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp
Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp by Claus Bonnerup Polfoto via AP

Johnny Depp’s best lessons come from observation of the multi-talented actor and musician. Johnny Depp’s best asset is making friends, despite an incredible dual talent. Depp’s greatest talent of all is his capacity for genuine friendship.

Johnny Depp’s behavior runs a lot deeper than networking. Johnny Depp builds strong friendships with virtually everyone he meets, apparently. Depp’s list of friends seems endless, but Johnny is there for all of them.

Alice Cooper concurs with Johnny Depp’s way of handling himself with others. Fans, friends, other musicians, and everyone else deserves to be treated well. Music is about team work as Alice Cooper told Forbes.

“I have managed to get the right people for the right songs.”

Joe Perry On Unity And Handling The Press

Joe Perry expressed concern over handling the press. Perry seems to feel that individual members should be really careful about doing interviews alone. Sending one guy to speak for the group may not be wise. Joe Perry told the Rolling Stone he wasn’t comfortable with Steven Tyler’s “farewell tour” announcement.

“I always hold my breath whenever Steven does an interview on his own.”

Johnny Depp has certainly had issues with the press recently. In the climate of the early 1970s, Alice Cooper thrived on bad press, but today, bad press can be a serious problem, as it has been for Johnny. Good planning and perhaps the buddy system as suggested by Joe Perry could be the best way of handling band interviews.


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Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry have known many musicians through the years. Alice, Johnny, and Joe formed Hollywood Vampires to commemorate the fallen heroes of rock music.

Hollywood Vampires members Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, and Joe Perry have over a century of music business experience between them.

[Featured Image by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP Images]