Neal Smith is a drummer and founding member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Alice Cooper band. The band was inducted in 2011. Smith appeared on the first seven albums, from 1968 until 1973. According to Wikipedia,
The classic Alice Cooper group line-up consisted of singer Alice Cooper (Vincent Furnier), lead guitarist Glen Buxton, rhythm guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith. With the exception of Smith, who graduated from Camelback High School (which is referred to in the song “Alma Mater” on the School’s Out album), all of the band members were on the Cortez High School cross-country team, and many of Cooper’s stage effects were inspired by their cross-country coach, Emmett Smith (one of Smith’s class projects was to build a working guillotine for slicing watermelons). Cooper, Buxton and Dunaway were also art students, and their admiration for the works of surrealist artists such as Salvador Dalí would further inspire their future stage antics.
In addition to the Alice Cooper band, Smith has also played and/or recorded with groups including The Billion Dollar Babies, The Plasmatics, Buck Dharma, Deadringer, Bouchard, Dunaway & Smith, Cinematik. Neal’s most recent work has been a solo project, KillSmith.
Smith was recently interviewed by Jeb Wright at Classic Rock Revisited. An excerpt is available below.
Jeb: Were you surprised that the Rock Hall included the rest of the guys and not just Alice for induction?
Neal: I had talked to people at the Hall of Fame and I was pretty much convinced, back in the late ‘90’s, that if Alice was nominated then the entire band would be nominated. They tend to go back to the original genesis of the act and that’s why I thought we would qualify.
We qualified in the mid 1990’s because our first album was out in 1969. You have to be around for 25 years to qualify. We had to wait sixteen years to be put in. The Rock and Roll Hall Fame, good, bad or indifferent, do know there history. They would not just put Buddy Holly in the Hall; it would be Buddy Holly & the Crickets. I hate that analogy but that is kind of where we were. The Hall knew that if Alice didn’t have that original band that Alice would not have had a career.
The people that I knew that were involved with the Hall, ten or fifteen years ago, convinced me that the entire band would go in if Alice went it.
Jeb: Is it pretty cool to be in?
Neal: Let’s put it this way, I was a little disappointed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because it took them so long to nominate us. It took them so long that Glen was no longer with us. I was actually beyond disappointed and was actually quite a bit pissed off. We could have done this while he was still alive. When it finally happened, it was very bittersweet for me. Glen wasn’t there and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. Just for the hell of it, I went to the Hall’s website and I looked at the bands who got inducted on their first try and it was the Beatles, the Stones, Elvis and the Beach Boys—it was all the big time bands. I felt a little bit better about having to wait. It is all really for the fans anyway. They are the ones who made it happen. I know there were people who were out there for years trying to get us inducted.
I can’t believe that we were actually nominated at all. There were fifteen acts, five of which, that would be nominated. If we had got in on the first ballot, that would have been as huge as when Billion Dollar Babies went to # 1 on the charts; I thought that we might eventually get in. I was hopeful that before I left this earth that I would be in the Hall of Fame. It worked out and we got in. Yeah, I have to say that it is a cool thing.