April 1972: Alice Cooper Releases "SCHOOL'S OUT" Single
April 1972 was coming to a close, with the school year soon to follow as summer barrelled down on America. The Godfather was at the beginning of an epic nearly six-month run as the most popular movie in the country, and Alice Cooper released the new battle cry for U.S. teens for generations to come: "School's Out."
"When we did 'School's Out,' I knew we had just done the national anthem," Cooper himself once said. "I've become the Francis Scott Key of the last day of school."
"School's Out" was the result of a long-gestating guitar riff by late Alice Cooper legend, Glenn Buxton: "He was this street punk," is how Cooper recalled the band's original guitarist and his high school friend. "The guitar actually went, nah nah nah, nah nah nah. It had a very bratty sound to it. And that's what I figured Alice should be. The brat who stands up and says, 'School's out!'"
It was legendary producer, Bob Ezrin, who added the cherry on top of the track: the choir of kids singing throughout the tune. Ezrin reached out to local casting agency for the choir of bratty young voices: "I had to explain to the parents why it was okay for this group of kids to sing with this group of completely twisted individuals," Ezrin revealed in the book Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal. "And the kids were scared to death, but I got them all to relax, and by the end of it, the kids were all laughing and giggling. They loved Alice."
Released on April 26, 1972, as the lead single of the album of the same name, "School's Out" was an instant smash for Alice Cooper, who wasn't surprised by the song's success: "If that's not a hit," the shock-rocker said after hearing the final version of the track, "I need to be selling shoes somewhere."
"School's Out" charged up the charts over the summer, racing all the way to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of July 29, 1972. The #1 song in America that week: Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again." The song's success helped propel School's Out the album all the way to #2 on the Billboard 200 over that very same week. The LP that blocked Alice Cooper from #1: Elton John's Honky Chateau.
"I think even the parents that didn't like Alice Cooper kind of went, 'Jeez when I was in school, that would've been my favorite song, too,'" says Cooper laughed years later. "It's just such a universal statement."
FUN FACT: When Alice Cooper was originally cast for the movie Wayne's World, he signed on to perform "School's Out" in the film. It was at the last minute when Cooper's brilliant career-long manager, Shep Gordon, informed the filmmakers that his artist would be bringing a new tune instead: "Feed My Frankenstein."