Michael Owen Bruce
Bruce performing with Alice Cooper in 2015
|Birth name||Michael Owen Bruce|
|Born||March 16, 1948|
|Genres||Rock, pop, folk, shock rock, hard rock, classic rock|
|Instruments||Piano, guitar, keyboards|
|Labels||Warner Bros., Polydor, ERT, One Way Records, New Millenium Communications Ltd./Burning Airlines|
|Associated acts||Alice Cooper
Billion Dollar Babies
Michael Owen Bruce (born March 16, 1948) is an American rock musician, best known as a member of Alice Cooper.
Michael Owen Bruce was born to Alvin and Ruth (Owen) Bruce. The Bruce and Owen families had moved to Arizona from Kansas. The family ancestry includes Cherokee, Scottish, Irish, English and Norman French. Ruth's father (Clarence Glenn Owen) was a veteran of WWI and also a professional baseball player: "Blacky" Owen. "Al" was in the military during the 1940s and, Ruth played piano on the radio and performed for many U.S.O. functions. After the military, "Al" worked for The Coca-Cola Company. Michael and his brothers (David and Paul) attended North High School in Phoenix, Arizona.
Bruce began his professional music career in the mid-1960s. Like so many young people of that time, he found a fiery inspiration in The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. After playing with The Trolls, Michael became part of a band known as The Wildflowers. Only a handful of songs were recorded by this group ("A Man Like Myself", "One A Day Like Today", "More Than Me" and "Moving Along with the Sun"). According to Bruce, the masters were bought from a man in Phoenix by Bear Family Records (A Germany based independent record label that specializes in reissues). There was another short lived group that Michael was a part of called Our Gang (Our Gang also featured North High School friend and member of The Tubes, Bill Spooner). They never made any known recordings. In 1966, he replaced John Tatum in a Phoenix band called The Spiders; featuring Glen Buxton, Dennis Dunaway, John Speer (replaced by Neal Smith), and Vince Furnier; all from area high schools. One of their top venues was the VIP Club in Phoenix. In 1967 they changed the band's name to The Nazz but had to change it again in 1968 after a legal-issue over Todd Rungren's band, Nazz. The band's new name was Alice Cooper.
Bruce was a guitarist, keyboard player and vocalist for the original Alice Cooper group (Vince Furnier aka Alice Cooper/Michael Bruce/Glen Buxton/Dennis Dunaway/Neal Smith). He co-wrote many of the hit songs with some or all of the other members of the band. Many times, Michael already had lyrics and music written for a song. The lyrics would then be reworked by Furnier. Two examples of this process are "Halo of Flies" and "No More Mr. Nice Guy". There are several Bruce-only credited songs including "Be My Lover" from Killer. Bruce also sang lead vocal on the majority of "Sing Low, Sweet Cheerio" on the first album Pretties For You and all of "Below Your Means" and "Beautiful Flyaway" on the follow-up Easy Action, prior to the band's breakthrough album Love It to Death on the Warner Bros. label; Love It to Death was the first Alice Cooper album produced by Bob Ezrin (Pretties For You was produced by Frank Zappa and Ian Underwood; Easy Action was produced by David Briggs who worked with Neil Young). The Alice Cooper group released five more albums (Killer, School's Out, Billion Dollar Babies, Muscle of Love and Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits) before taking a break from touring in 1974; Several of the members wanted to record their own solo albums. Welcome to My Nightmare would prove to be the most successful of these solo ventures. A full-length, feature film of the original group was also released to the American cinema in 1974; Good to See You Again, Alice Cooper. The concert footage was shot on the Billion Dollar Babies Tour in 1973 and included a fictional story about an angry director seeking revenge against the band that was shot at Universal Studios in Los Angeles (A scene in the Welcome to My Nightmare concert film, where Alice smashes the neon headstone with a shovel, was also shot during this time). The live concert portion was filmed mostly in Texas (A good deal of which was shot at the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas) between the Dallas-Fort Worth Area and Houston. Also appearing in Good To See You Again were Bob Dolin, Mick Mashbir and The Amazing Randi; Dolan performed on keyboards, Mashbir on guitar and Randi as the dentist and Alice's executioner.
In My Own Way
It was around this time (1973–1974) that Bruce began working on his own recordings with a group of musicians that included: Mick Mashbir (guitars and vocals), Bob Dolin (keyboards and vocals), Frank Crandall (bass and vocals) and Don Lindley (percussion and vocals); Mashbir and Dolin had performed as members of the touring band on the Billion Dollar Babies tour. This line-up recorded and produced four songs ("If I was King", "As Rock Rolls On", "Oh, My Love" and "Nothing on Earth") that Jack Douglas mixed.
When Bruce decided to leave Connecticut in 1974 and move to Lake Tahoe, Crandall and Lindley did not follow. Bruce, Dolin and Mashbir were then faced with finding a new rhythm section. Drummers, such as William "Curly" Smith (of Jo Jo Gunne) and John Barbata (of The Turtles and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) came to play and record at Bruce's Nevada home. However, they never could find a steady bass player.
Bruce's album, In My Own Way was recorded over the course of three months in 1975 with producers, Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli of The Rascals. Many different musicians came down to the Record Plant and participated in the sessions for the album; Gerry Beckley (America), Jackie Lomax (The Undertakers, The Lomax Alliance and Badger), Ricky Fataar (The Flames, The Beach Boys & The Rutles), Keith Moon (The Who), Brian Garofalo (session bassist), David Foster (Skylark & Airplay), Hunt Sales (Todd Rundgren, Paris, Iggy Pop, Tender Fury and Tin Machine), Tony Sales (Todd Rundgren, Iggy Pop and Tin Machine), Mylon LeFevre, Lynn Carey and many more. American fashion photographer, Francesco Scavullo, did a shoot for Bruce that yielded the cover of In My Own Way.
Billion Dollar Babies
'Billion Dollar Babies' was the name of the band founded in 1976 by Michael Bruce, Mike Marconi, Dennis Dunaway, Bob Dolin, and Neal Smith after they split from Alice Cooper in 1974. Bruce's solo album (In My Own Way) had been sold to Polydor in Germany. Polydor did a very limited test pressing and decided to shelve it without release. Originally, 'Billion Dollar Babies' started out in the hope that Alice would return and Battle Axe would be the new record from the Alice Cooper Group. As history will show, that wasn't the outcome. Everyone decided to proceed without Alice. Time Magazine featured the group in a brief but hopeful write-up in 1977. There had been a fantastic and very theatrical stage show planned in which Bruce and Marconi would battle each other in the fashion of gladiators. In spite of the positive start, the band was embroiled in a legal suit over the use of the name. The tour was quite brief, as well (The very imaginative stage show was far too costly, as it would turn out.) Their only release was 1977's Battle Axe. Unfortunately, the Battle Axe record lost any momentum it had when it was recalled for mastering problems which caused the turntable needle to skip. Bruce, Dunaway and Smith had also invested a large sum of their own money in the project. Jack Douglas, who had worked on Muscle of Love with Jack Richardson, was hired to fix the mastering problem. With so many problems weighing them down, the group disbanded.
The Josiah-Bruce Band
In January 1990, Michael met a man named Josiah who worked with troubled youth. They shared a common interest in music and became friends. Josiah and Bruce soon decided to form a band and call it, The Josiah Bruce Band. The band also included Ronnie Bolsega (from Hammond, Indiana) on drums with Ron Parker on bass. They performed live and recorded an album's worth of material but, nothing was ever released.
The Michael Bruce Group
No More Mr Nice Guy : The Inside Story of the "Alice Cooper" Group by Michael Bruce and Billy James was released on October 1, 1996 (and updated and re-released in 2000). It is a relatively short book (159 pages) with some rare pictures from Bruce's personal collection. It was published by SAF Publishing (a company in the UK). Also in 1996, Bruce had moved to Texas and saw his album, In My Own Way, released for the first time on compact disc by One Way Records (now out of business). In 1998, while residing in Houston, Michael formed a band that performed locally and toured as The Michael Bruce Group. The members of the band were Michael Bruce (guitars, vocals and keyboards), David "Vito" Mastrovito (guitar and vocals), John Glenn (keyboards and vocals), Wilton Hudgens (bass and vocals) and Troy Powell (drums and vocals); Tom Turner (road manager and assistant). After the first leg of the 1998 tour, Mastrovito left the band; Glenn had opted out of touring from the beginning. The three piece line-up of the Michael Bruce Group (Bruce, Hudgens and Powell) performed in Clarion, Iowa at the first Glen Buxton Memorial (during their 1998 midwestern tour); Clarion is where Michael's former band mate passed on and was laid to rest.
The band briefly relocated to the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois at the end of the summer of 1998. Bruce and Hudgens performed with Neal Smith (original Alice Cooper group drummer) at the first Chiller Theatre Convention in Washington, D.C. before returning to Texas at the end of the year. They reformed the band with Joe Garbo (drums and percussion) and Jeff Harris (sax, piano and vocals), in 2000. This version performed at Anne Rice's Coven Ball at The State Palace Theatre (New Orleans) in Louisiana and The 3rd Glen Buxton Memorial at The Whiskey a Go Go in Los Angeles (Ingo Geirdal also guested on guitar with the group at the 3rd Glen Buxton Memorial in L.A.).
After 2003, Bruce returned to his home state of Arizona. When he got there, he began seeking out other players for a new band. His reformed, Michael Bruce Group, featured Bruce (guitars and vocals), Bob Russell (guitars and vocals), Thomas Dominick (bass and keyboards) and Bob Allen (drums).
May 1, 2004 was the debut of a new Michael Bruce Group in Tucson, AZ. The line up was Bob Russell (guitar), Jeff Harris (sax, piano & vocals), Thomas Dominick (organ & keys), Mondo Thomas (bass), Robin Horn (son of jazz icon Paul Horn) (drums), and Bruce (guitars, keys, & vocals).
September 16, 2005 saw the release of a new Michael Bruce album authorized for Iceland in a limited edition of 200 copies in a deluxe digipak. "The Second Coming of Michael Bruce – Alive & Re-Cooperated" is Bruce's first official release in years (although exclusive only to Iceland at this time) and features 17 songs recorded in Iceland 2002 -2003. The 74 min long CD included new studio recordings as well as previously unheard live performances by Michael Bruce & his Icelandic band performing songs from throughout his career. All the recordings were professionally done on 24-track and mixed by Ingo & Silli Geirdal. The deluxe digipak featured artwork of Michael Bruce by Ingo, band photos and exclusive liner notes by Dennis Dunaway.
During 2010, Michael was called on for participation in a new Alice Cooper record; Welcome 2 My Nightmare (The sequel to the original Welcome to My Nightmare). The album also featured work involving Neal Smith, Dennis Dunaway, Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter. Alice also invited Bruce, Hunter, Dunaway and Smith to perform with him that December at his Annual Christmas Pudding fundraiser at The Dodge Theatre in Phoenix, AZ.
- In My Own Way (Recorded 1975; Released 1996)
- As Rock Rolls On (1983)
- In My Own Way – The Complete Sessions (2002)
- Halo of Ice (2002)
- The Second Coming of Michael Bruce - Alive and Re-Cooperated (2005)
- Be My Lover – Michael Bruce Anthology (2010)
Billion Dollar Babies
- Battle Axe (1977)
- Complete Battle Axe (2002)
Original Alice Cooper Group
- Pretties For You (1969)
- Easy Action (1970)
- Love It to Death (1971)
- Killer (1971)
- School's Out (1972)
- Billion Dollar Babies (1973)
- Muscle of Love (1973)
- Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits (1974)
- Live at the Whiskey 1969 (1992)
- Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)
- Michael Bruce, Billy James (2000). No More Mr. Nice Guy: The Inside Story of the Original Alice Cooper Group. SAF Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-946719-32-2.
- Bob Greene (1974). Billion Dollar Baby. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-689-10616-3.
This page is in coordination with Michael O. Bruce.
- Alice Cooper eChive: Articles