Billion Dollar Babies

Album: Billion Dollar Babies (1973)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song is about the dangers of overindulgence. It came just as Cooper was getting famous and exposed to rock star excess, and accordingly it helped make him rich and famous. Alice used the cash to buy a house in Los Angeles and finance more elaborate stage shows and videos. He lived the rock star lifestyle for a while, but in later years settled into a very sensible upper class lifestyle, living in Arizona, playing lots of golf, and making shrewd business decisions. He never became a billionaire, but he did very well for himself.
  • Cooper and his band recorded this at a mansion they rented out to record the album in Greenwich, Connecticut, which is a very wealthy suburb of New York City.

    The song is credited as written by Cooper, his guitarist Michael Bruce, and a session guitarist they worked with named Reggie Vinson.
  • The Billion Dollar Babies album was re-released with new packaging as a DVD in 2000. It contains all the songs plus interviews and bonus tracks.
  • As part of his stage show, Cooper would mutilate dolls when he performed this song. The tour for the album introduced the props Cooper became famous for, including the guillotine, the snake, and hundreds of cans of beer.
  • This song took on new meaning when Cooper started playing casinos in the '90s.
  • 1973 was the last year that Alice Cooper was recognized as a group, rather than just the lead singer. Since the singer, Vincent Furnier, drew most of the attention, many fans did not know the difference between him and the Alice Cooper Band. Muscle of Love was the last album as the group.

    As lead singer Vincent Furnier became the known as Alice Cooper and sucked up all the notoriety the band received, the guitarist, bass player, and drummer from The Alice Cooper Band left and formed a group called The Billion Dollar Babies. They released an album called Battle Axe in 1977.
  • The background vocals were sung by Donovan of "Mellow Yellow" fame. Donovan was recording at Willesden's Morgan Studios around the same time as Alice, and got roped into the session.

    In a 2016 Songfacts interview with Donovan, he told the story: "Here was this guy that I just met. He played me the song, and said, 'Would you like to put a vocal on?' I said, 'OK. Give me the chorus.' I listened to the chorus, and his guitar player was playing like Keith Richards - something very powerful that he'd learned from Keith or from Brian Jones in the Stones. And when I listened to the chorus, I said, 'OK. I'll give it a go.'

    But I learned something: I had to sing in falsetto. Power bands in Britain had already learned that to have a singer in a power rock outfit, you need a singer who can go into falsetto. That's why you've got Robert Plant in Zeppelin, Jon Anderson with Yes. They have to raise their voices into the high range.

    Chris Squire of Yes, who was a friend at the time, I said, 'Why is it?' And he said, 'Well, it's very easy. If you want your voice to be heard, you've got to climb above the guitars in the mid-range, or else you won't even hear the vocal.' And it's true.

    So, I immediately said, 'Hey Alice, what do you think of [singing falsetto] Biiiillion Dollar Babies? So I did the falsetto, Alice loved it, and then I forgot about it, and never even thought about it, until someone told me later, it went to #1. And I was half the vocal! So Alice and I, when we meet, we have a chuckle and a laugh about it. It was a great pleasure. And the best thing about it was nobody knew it was me for so long!"
  • Notwithstanding the sometimes grotesque subject matter, Cooper told Gibson.com that one of his main inspirations for the album was Chuck Berry. "[Berry] was my favorite lyricist," said Cooper. "When I first heard something like 'Nadine,' or 'Maybelline,' I understood those songs told a story. As the lyrics went along, you really got a picture of what was going on. He took the girl out; he couldn't get his seat belt off - things like that. I always wanted to write three-minute stories that were funny, or maybe not just funny, but also dramatic. The idea was to compact everything into three minutes, which is really hard to do."

Comments: 22

  • Rabbi Meyer from Central WisconsinI had this album when I was a kid and read on the cover that it was recorded at the "Cooper Mansion" in Greenwich CT; being 12 or 13 this made sense because anyone who was famous was also a millionaire and lived in a mansion.

    But a more recent Wall St. Journal article reveals that they only recorded the initial B$B tracks at the "Cooper Mansion" which the band had rented in Greenwich, in part for its big room acoustics. They finished the record in London where all sorts of famous music folks (Marc Bolen, Harry Nilsson) were hanging out and partying. Donovan was recording just down the hall and was wondering what all the fuss was about.

    But yeah, the rock star excess song is Generation Landslide, not B$B, and Hello Hooray is a gem.
  • Mike from ChicagoI think this song follows the Cooper theme of the sinister, twisted little girl which they had in mind while coming up with the name Alice Cooper. The dirty, little rubbery doll that was purchased at a dime store - the doll’s owner, a little girl, sneaks to the attic and does whatever weird and tortuous things which she refers to as ‘dancing’. Freaky lyric.
  • Heidi from Calgary CanadaI think the song is just a little "horror story" with a sense of humour! As a lyricist Cooper's tales of terror (to parents, long ago at any rate) was and is always rather tongue in cheek. The "we go dancing nightly in the attic" spoken over part of the song seems (in my mind) about a really lonely guy/ghoul whose only companion is either a sex toy girlfriend or a doll than a prowling pervert. He's a guy that hardly ever leaves the house and lives up in skewed imagination as well as in the attic, with an alcoholic aged mother downstairs who hoards newspapers and cats. I see him as dressed in a ragged 1940's film noir Sam Spade/Humphrey Bogart suit waltzing on a decrepit wood plank floor with a beat up old Shirley Temple doll that has crudely applied and smeared (from too many amorous kisses) dark blood red lipstick. I think that's the brilliance of some of the Alice Cooper character's--he IS just a character Furnier puts on and takes off--lyrics; they create images and associations, the hallmark of any good lyricist or poet :)
  • Drew from Nyc, Nyheard on radio his am that Donovan was not first choice. He replaced a popular British rocker who was too drunk to perform. Anyone know who this is??
  • Bob from Royal Oak, MiOK, They have the "This song is about the dangers of overindulgence." confused with another Cooper song. It's from "Billion Dollar Babies", the title is "Generation Landslide". Easy to confuse
    , since the chorus is "They never concieved us as Billions Dollar Babies". How's this for a lyric about excess- "Dad gets his allowance from his sonny the dealer

    Who's pubic to the world but involved in high finance

    Sister's out till five doing banker's son's hours

    But she owns a Maserati that's a gift from his father"

    Opinions differ about the song "Billion Dollar Babies", but a quick look at the lyrics REALLY makes on believe that it's about a sex doll.
  • Thrasher from Sitter, ArThey've got it wrong. This song's about a SEX DOLL.
  • Lester from New York City, NyAlce's guitarists on 'Welcome to My Nightmare' were Steve Hunter and Dickie Wagner. Not too shabby. Actually, Wagner had played on 'School's Out', 'Billion $ Babies' and 'Muscle of Love' before WTMN'.
  • Allison from A Little Ol' Town In, MiAwesome song....end of story
  • Roy from Granbania, MaSome interesting insight, fyodor from Denver. The same thing happened to a lesser extent with Van Halen and Santana. The only possible exception to that rule is Manfred Mann...
  • Roy from Granbania, MaThis song is an amazing bass performance by Dennis Dunaway. He seems to be a very underrated bass player based on this song.
  • Mark from Grafton, United StatesGlen Buxton died in 1997. The rest of the original band are still with us. And all of the original band members were great musicians, as Alice came to find out when he tried to replace them with studio hacks for his solo albums.
  • Joe from Huston, Txthis song was about baby or doll or child serial killers such as chucky or the omen kid damien
  • Guilliermo from New York, Nyand I guess we care that "Nicoletta" from The Bronx has her doubts about the album being recorded in Greenwich CT because.........
  • Chrissy from Long Island, NyEveryone says that this song is about being exposed to rock star exess, but what does"We go dancing nightly in the attic while the moon is rising in the sky" mean? What does that have to do with being exposed to rock star exess? I don't get it. Still a great song, though!!!!!
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoWarning to bands: If you choose a bandname that's the same as one of the band members, don't be surprised if once you become famous the band member takes the name recognition and runs. Billion Dollar Babies were a dismal failure without Alice, even though those individuals wrote as much of the material for the ACB as did Alice.
  • John from Jersey City, NjThe mansion, on which everyone here seems to be commenting, was located at 10 Hill Road in Greenwich, CN. It was formerly owned by actess/singer Ann-Margret & her husband, actor Roger Smith. Also, Muscle of Love, the Alice Cooper group's last collaboration, featured two background singers of note (no pun!). On the song Teenage Lament '74, you are hearing two legendary divas: Liza Minelli and Ronnie Spector. As far as the members of the original group, lead guitarist Glenn Buxton recently (within the past 2-3 years) passed away due to cancer, and drummer Neal Allen Smith sells real estate in Connecticut.
  • Heather from Holbrook, NyAccording to Alice, he still doesn't know what the song is about.
  • Sue from Sparta, Njalise cooper is a bithch
  • Darrell from Portland, MeOK - Here is some facts:
    1 Billion $ Babies was not the last album by the original Alice Cooper Group, they followed it with Muscle of Love (73) and Greatest Hits (74)
    2 They recorded the tracks at The Record Plant in NYC with Bob Ezrin producing
    3 Donovan's tracks were recorded in London when Cooper was on tour there
    4 The Band rented a mansion in Greenwich CT to live in, not to record at
  • Paul from Rothesay, Nb, CanadaI don't think I'd refer to Dononvan is a back-up
    singer on this song. He and Cooper sing the song as a duo. Who would have ever believed that Donovan could pull off a song like "Billion Dollar Babies"! One of my absolute fave Alice
    songs! Dennis Dunaway...awesome bass dude!
  • Brian from Grand Forks, NdI don't understand how this all gets put together... I read an interview that Donovan just happened to be recording down the hall and that is why he ended up on this song... Now if that is the case... What's this recorded at a mansion in Conneticut stuff... I'm Confused... Something isn't right...
  • Nicoletta from Bronx, Nyi don't understand when said about greenwich, ct being a wealthy suburb of NYC...it's probably a loft in greenwich village in NYC ... yes, greenwich, ct is wealthy and there are mansions, but i doubt they recorded up there - not in NYC, it is in CT!
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