The Black Widow

Album: Welcome To My Nightmare (1975)

Songfacts®:

  • Eight years before the Thriller video, Alice Cooper created the original spooky mini-movie to a song narrated by Vincent Price. Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare was a film based on Cooper's stage show. Price, who was a famous horror actor, portrayed "The Spirit of the Nightmare," in which Cooper was trapped. "The Black Widow" is a lynchpin of the production, and the track that got Price involved in the project.

    After coming up with the arachnid theme of this song, Cooper and his producer Bob Ezrin wrote a mordant introduction that they hired Price to narrate. This introduction sets the tone, as Price takes Cooper through his lair, refusing to release him from his nightmare. Price details the deadly proclivities of the black widow spider, which Cooper then sings about as he plays out his fears.

    When Welcome To My Nightmare went on the road as a concert tour, this song got a lavish production, with a giant web and humanoid spiders. For the movie, many of these set pieces were used, along with a performance by Price. When done live, Cooper's guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter dueled on guitar for about 5 minutes while the stage morphed into a spider's lair. Price's recorded voice would then play, before Cooper would finally take the stage. His vocals are just a small part of the number, as most of it is dominated by guitar solos and spider battles.
  • Cooper wrote this song with his producer Bob Ezrin and his guitarist Dick Wagner. In our interview with Dick Wagner, he told us the story:

    "I remember standing in the studio with Bob and Alice, and Bob said to me, 'Can you come up with some kind of mid-tempo heavy rock thing?' And I said, 'Let me give it a try.' I plugged my guitar in and just messed around and came up with that. It immediately fit, and Alice started singing 'Black Widow.' And later on he had the idea to bring in Vincent Price to do that talk, which Alice and Bob wrote - they wrote that speech for Vincent Price.

    But that initial record, writing the chord changes and stuff, I remember just doing it on the spot; just a momentary inspiration. I wasn't sitting somewhere trying to write a song, it was just spontaneous combustion on the guitar."
  • Unlike most black widows of song and screen, this one is male, as Cooper sings about the spider (or its metaphoric equivalent) sitting on "his throne." This indicates that Vincent Price's character is, in fact, the black widow.

Comments: 2

  • George from Vancouver, CanadaPaulo Pereira from Yonkers, Ny: there's no error here; the spiders, male or female, are called back widows; the song is about the spider, it being a metaphor for relationship angst. . .
  • Paulo Pereira from Yonkers, NyWidows are, by definition, female. Should have been called "The Black Widower" but I guess that wouldn't have fit the song as well.
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