Renowned as one of Phoenix’s signature holiday events, Alice Cooper‘s 18th annual “Christmas Pudding” fundraiser brought together Michael Bruce, Neal Smith and Dennis Dunaway from the original ALICE COOPER band, JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford, legendary guitarist Joe Bonamassa, Cooper‘s HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES bandmate Johnny Depp, Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss and EXTREME‘s Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt for an evening of music and mayhem.
Prior to this year’s event, Cooper told Cooper told SanTan Sun News: “Every year, I try to get an entirely different lineup. I thought, ‘Who haven’t we had on the show?’ Bonamassa is going to be great. He’s one of the greatest guitar players of all time. Rob Halford, the guys from EXTREME, the original ALICE COOPER band, Jim Breuer, GARY MULE DEER, Mark Slaughter, and we invited Nita Strauss and her boyfriend, who plays the drums. They have an album out. She was just voted one of the best female guitarists in the world. She’s going to come up and do a couple songs.
“We make it very loose,” he added. “Everybody can sit in with everybody. I’ve invited Johnny Depp. He’s been to the ‘Pudding’ five or six times. If he wants to drop in, he can.”
Cooper and his former bandmates reunited for “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “Be My Lover”, “Under My Wheels”, “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out” while Cherone and Bettencourt played EXTREME‘s “Get The Funk Out”, “Hole In My Heart” and “More Than Words”. Halford sang a five-song set of some of PRIEST‘s greatest hits — “Heading Out to the Highway”, “Diamonds & Rust”, “Breaking The Law”, “Living After Midnight” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” — with the “Christmas Pudding” house band SIXWIRE.
Proceeds from the December 14 event at the Celebrity Theatre directly benefit the free music, dance, arts, and vocational programs for teens at Alice Cooper‘s Solid Rock Teen Centers.
Cooper explained to Fox 10 Phoenix: “You get a kid interested in something other than what is going on in the street, and you know what is going on in the street a lot of bad stuff. It takes their whole attention and they might be thinking, ‘I might join that gang’ or ‘I might run away,’ but they say, ‘Wait a minute. I might want to play guitar or play drums or an art class that’s for free.'”