The title (and song) were inspired by a warning often said in Bowery Boys movies in which one of the characters declares to another, "School is out," meaning "to wise up." The Bowery Boys were characters featured in 48 movies that ran from 1946-1958. They were young tough guys in New York City who were always finding trouble. The movies ran on American TV throughout the '60s and '70s, eating up a lot of air time on independent stations. It was one of these TV viewings that Cooper saw. In the film, the character Sach (Huntz Hall) did something dumb, which prompted one of the other guys to say, "Hey, Sach, School's Out!" Cooper like the way the phrase sounded and used it as the basis for this song.
This is a fixture at Cooper's concerts. He says the difference between him and guys like Marilyn Manson is that he leaves the crowd in a good mood. His shows are meant to be fun, not depressing.
This was released in the summer of 1972, when school really was out. It's since become an anthem for summer vacation.
Cooper wrote this song with his guitarist Michael Bruce. At the time, "Alice Cooper" was the name of the band, not just the lead singer, and all members contributed to their songwriting. Bruce also wrote the group's songs "Caught In A Dream" and "Be My Lover," and co-wrote "No More Mr. Nice Guy
" with Cooper.
This was Cooper's biggest hit; it was especially popular in the UK where it topped the chart for three weeks. A concert staple, it is usually the last song he plays at his shows.
The chorus of children who sing on this was put together by producer Bob Ezrin. In 1979, Ezrin used another kid's chorus when he produced "Another Brick In The Wall (part II)
" for Pink Floyd. He liked the idea of hearing children's voices on songs about school. In this song, they sing the children's rhyme "No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks."
In a 2008 Esquire interview, Cooper said: "When we did 'School's Out,' I knew we had just done the national anthem. I've become the Francis Scott Key of the last day of school."
The album opened like a school desk and contained a pair of paper panties. This is the kind of "added value" you just don't get with CDs.
Soul Asylum covered this for the 1998 movie The Faculty.
Cooper recorded a new version of this with Swedish pop group The A-Teens in 2002. It was an odd pairing, but the A-Teens claimed Cooper did not scare them. Cooper said that was because they had never seen his stage show. The lyrics of the new version were altered from "School's been blown to pieces" to "I'm bored to pieces."
Cooper starred in a TV commercial for Staples where a young girl is forced to shop for school supplies while a Muzak version of this song plays. She looks at Cooper and says, "I thought you said School's out forever." He replies, "No, the song goes, 'School's out for summer. Nice try, though." At this point, the real version of the song kicks in.
On May 13, 2009, Cooper performed this song at the Arizona State University graduation ceremonies with his son Dash's band, Runaway Phoenix. Alice wore his varsity letter sweater from Cortez High (Class of '66) for the performance, which preceded a speech by US President Barack Obama. Cooper's son Dash was attending the ASU journalism school.
This was slated for the 1992 film Wayne's World
, where Cooper was to perform it before meeting Wayne and Garth backstage. Shortly before filming began, Cooper's manager Shep Gordon changed the playbook and told the film's producers that Alice would be performing a new song instead: "Feed My Frankenstein