Johnny Depp’s Hollywood Vampires Is Named After a Legendary Drinking Club — Members Included John Lennon, Keith Moon, and Micky Dolenz
In 2012, Johnny Depp joined Alice Cooper’s supergroup, Hollywood Vampires. Cooper formed the band with Depp, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, and Tommy Henriksen. The rocker named the supergroup after the late-night drinking club he founded in the 1970s. Members included John Lennon, The Who’s Keith Moon, and The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz.
Alice Cooper founded a legendary drinking club called Hollywood Vampires
Cooper explained to NME that he formed the original Hollywood Vampires and that some of the biggest hellraisers were a part of it. He called the club Hollywood Vampires because they never saw the light of day.
“The original Hollywood Vampires was a drinking club, a last-man-standing kinda thing,” Cooper said. “You’d go over to the Rainbow Bar & Grill in Hollywood every night, and there would be myself, Micky Dolenz from The Monkees, [Elton John co-writer] Bernie Taupin, Keith Moon, and Harry Nilsson. If John Lennon was in town, he’d always be hanging out with Harry, so he’d come by too.
“People started calling us the Hollywood Vampires because we’d never see daylight. We figured instead of drinking the blood of the vein, we were drinking the blood of the vine.”
The club had its own room at the bar and even had a softball team.
Hollywood Vampires had some famous members
Cooper explained that the group of drinkers would arrive at the nightclub early, before Moon. He always showed up in outrageous costumes.
“As far as new members went, we knew who the big drinkers were, especially Keith Moon,” Cooper said. “We’d go there every night and get a headstart, because we wanted to see what Keith was going to turn up wearing.
“He would go to the costume shops around town and literally arrive dressed as the Queen of England. Then, maybe two nights later, he’d come in as Hitler, or wearing a French maid’s outfit. We’d all sit around and laugh at him, but then you think, ‘Well, this guy’s the best drummer in the world. He’s allowed to do that…'”
According to the Guardian, Ringo Starr, John Belushi, Keith Emerson, and Marc Bolan were also members. Fallen rockstars Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison were honorary members of the club.
Cooper dissolved the club when his drinking became a problem
Hollywood Vampires dissolved when Cooper realized he would become Hendrix and Morrison if he weren’t careful. Moon didn’t have the same worries. He died in 1978 of a drug overdose.
“When I watched Jim and Jimi die at 27 years old, it was one of those things where I knew there was going to be a crossroads – a point where I was going to have to make the decision to either join them on the other side, or quit and make another 20 albums,” Cooper said.
“It came down to that decision one morning a few years later, where I woke up and threw up blood. My body was giving out, my pancreas was probably infected and the doctor said, ‘You can either keep drinking and join your friends, in which case good luck. Or you can stop, live, and go on making records.’
“And it really wasn’t a decision. Steven Tyler came to that point, Iggy Pop did too. I think everyone who’s still out there from my generation realized they were going to come to that crossroads at some point.”
In 2012, while Cooper starred in Dark Shadows with Depp, they talked about starting a band together. Cooper spoke about all the fallen vampires from the original Hollywood Vampires. He said it would be great to start a bar band. The next time Cooper saw Depp, Perry was with him, and they formed Hollywood Vampires.
They released their self-titled debut album in 2015 and recorded a song called “My Dead Drunk Friends,” which paid homage to all the dead vampires.