Musical Instrument Museum to honor Alice Cooper this weekend | Phoenix New Times

Alice Cooper is being honored at the MIM in Phoenix this weekend. Here's why

The legendary shock rocker will be celebrated on Saturday and Sunday.
Rock 'n' roll legend Alice Cooper.
Rock 'n' roll legend Alice Cooper. Jim Louvau
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Alice Cooper tends to get a reaction at the Musical Instrument Museum.

Whenever visitors to the Phoenix cultural institution encounter a long-running exhibit showcasing memorabilia from the iconic shock rocker’s career (including a fake severed head), it causes oohs, ahhs, laughter and even screams, says Rich Walter, the MIM’s curator for the United States and Canada.

"That's probably the one exhibit that elicits the most outbursts from people," Walter says. "We can always tell when people have discovered the exhibit, even without seeing what's going on, because you can hear them. It's fun and people love it."

Welcome to his nightmare.

Walter is hoping the public will also love this weekend’s “Celebrate the Music of Alice Cooper” event at the museum, which will focus on the rock legend’s career and influence. The two-day celebration, which is being presented in conjunction with Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers in Phoenix and Mesa, will feature activities like a presentation on his exhibit at the MIM and an interactive workshop on playing guitar.

Local bands who won Cooper’s annual Proof Is in the Pudding youth music competition, including rock bands The Sintrics and Znora, will also perform.

Walter says the event offers a chance to honor Cooper and his history in the Valley.

"MIM has a full calendar of different signature events each year, including those featuring iconic and successful artists like Elvis Presley and Ella Fitzgerald," he says. "It seemed like a fun idea to celebrate Alice Cooper and his music and influence."

Walter says they also wanted to highlight the work the Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers have done with its programs “preparing the next generation of the music industry.” The nonprofit organization, which was founded in 2001, offers vocational training for teens ages 12 to 20 in music and dance, as well as recording, sound, lighting, staging and video production.

“Alice’s ongoing support of young people hoping to follow their own creative ideas and learn how to play music or get into the entertainment industry has been considerable,” Walter says.
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The Musical Instrument Museum's exhibit dedicated to Alice Cooper.

Alice Cooper’s history with the MIM

Cooper has been associated with the MIM for over a decade, as the museum's exhibit spotlighting his career dates back to 2012. It features vintage photographs from throughout his various projects – ranging from early projects like The Earwigs and The Spiders to his ‘70s heyday with the Alice Cooper band – as well as stage-worn costumes, props and instruments.

"It runs the gamut and shows all of his unique contributions to rock 'n' roll history and can connect people with his career and music,” Walter says. For anyone who's into Alice Cooper, it will be a fun weekend. But it’s an opportunity to recognize how he’s had a place in a bigger story of music and performance traditions.”

Walter will help MIM patrons explore this history during his discussion about the exhibit on Saturday and Sunday during the event. He’ll also highlight the connections Cooper has with the Valley dating back to the musician’s days attending Phoenix’s Cortez High School in the 1960s.

“It will be a good opportunity to stitch all of that together and help people understand how some of his ideas and his successes were a product of growing up here,” Walter says.

Walter also hopes the event will serve as a gateway to the rest of the museum, which houses more than 1,000 musical instruments from around the world.

“Anyone who finds Alice Cooper's career interesting and thought-provoking, they might be excited going through the rest of the museum and finding other examples of profound music history, whether it’s rock 'n' roll history or the different music traditions and instruments we have here,” Walter says. “I think that's what MIM does well: it helps you explore things on a global scale.”
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Alice Cooper in his signature top hat.
Jim Louvau

Schedule for Celebrate the Music of Alice Cooper at MIM

Here’s a full rundown of what’s happening during the museum’s Celebrate the Music of Alice Cooper event on Saturday and Sunday, May 11 and 12.

Craft: Alice Cooper Top Hat
9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday
South El Río

MIM patrons can create their own version of Alice Cooper’s signature top hat.

Photo Booth
9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday
El Río

A hands-free photo booth will be available at the MIM during the event. Patrons can also share their photos online with the tag #MIMPhx for the chance to be posted on the museum's social media.

Gallery Talk Q&A: Alice Cooper
10:30-11 a.m.
MIM’s United States/Canada Gallery

Rich Walter, the curator for United States and Canada, will share facts and stories behind the museum’s long-running Alice Cooper exhibit and the memorabilia it contains.

Film: "Juxtapose"
11-11:30 a.m.
MIM Music Theater

The short film "Juxtapose," which tells the story of how local mariachi ensemble Mariachi Juvenil de mi Tierra participated in and ultimately won Cooper's Proof is in the Pudding youth music competition in 2017, will be screened.

Panel Discussion: What Is It Like to Work in the Music Industry?
11:45-12:45 p.m.
Event Room 2

Music industry professionals will impart their knowledge of the field and share various experiences during this hour-long panel discussion, aimed at assisting newcomers in navigating a career in music.
Performance: Znora
1:15-2 p.m.
North El Rio

Local band Znora — the trio of vocalist and guitarist Adrian Negrete, bassist Johny Rohde and drummer Josh Montaño that won 2023's Proof Is in the Pudding competition — will perform a set of bluesy psych-rock.

Electric Guitar Workshop
2:15-3:45 p.m.
Event Room 2

Metalhead Conrad Varela, guitarist for such bands as Escape the Hive and Thieves Paradise, and members of Znora will conduct this interactive electric guitar workshop aimed at beginners.

Performance: The Sintrics
3:15–4 p.m., Saturday
North El Rio

Local theatrical hard rock band The Sintrics, the winners of the 2021 Proof Is in the Pudding competition, will provide a lively performance for MIM patrons.

Performance: Mariachi Juvenil de mi Tierra
3:15-4 p.m., Sunday

Local ensemble Mariachi Juvenil de mi Tierra, the winners of the Proof is in the Pudding talent competition in 2017, will perform music featured in the short film “Juxtapose.”

Celebrate the Music of Alice Cooper. 9 a.m-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 11-12. Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Blvd. Free with museum admission; $20 for adults, $15 for ages 13-19, $10 for ages 4-12.
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