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Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame Inducts Song Made Famous by Alice Cooper, Judy Collins

December 9th, 2016
Rolf Kempf (Photo credit: SOCAN)

Rolf Kempf (Photo credit: SOCAN)

The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) has announced the induction of “Hello, Hooray,” a hit song for both Alice Cooper and folksinger Judy Collins, written by Canadian singer-songwriter Rolf Kempf. To celebrate the song’s induction, Toronto-based indie rock band and 2016 SOCAN Songwriting Prize Winners Fast Romantics perform Hello, Hooray as part of the Hall of Fame and CBC Music/ICI Musique Covered Classics series; a collaboration between the CSHF and CBC Music/ICI Musique, Covered Classics invites Canada’s finest musical talent to perform their version of a classic song to celebrate its induction into the Hall of Fame – the performance can be viewed HERE.

“We were thrilled to get the chance to perform ‘Hello, Hooray’ as part of the Covered Classic series,” says Matthew Angus of the Fast Romantics. “The moment the chorus hit us we knew we had to try this one. We took cues from the Alice Cooper version and it brought us right out of our comfort zone — but in the best way — so thanks for letting us try our hand at playing tribute to such a great tune.”

“I’m honoured and humbled by the induction of Hello, Hooray into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame,” said Kempf. “It seems to have had a life of its own, appearing on albums with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Ian Tyson and Bob Dylan, and played all over the world by the great satirist, Alice Cooper.”

“Hello, Hooray” was written by Rolf Kempf in 1968 on a borrowed guitar, sitting by a pool in Laurel Canyon. The songwriter had just moved from Toronto to Los Angeles to aid his burgeoning music career, but his band soon decamped. The song is about re-inventing oneself after hard times. A few days later, Judy Collins stopped by, looking for new songs to extend her folksinger boundaries. Kempf offered his newest creation. “I fell in love with it the moment I heard it,” Collins declared in her memoirs.

Thus it was that Collins, with Elektra Records producer David Anderle, came to record Hello, Hooray for her 1968 folk-pop album “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” (which included other Canadian classics including Ian Tyson’s Someday Soon and Leonard Cohen’s Bird on a Wire).

In 1973, rocker Alice Cooper (the stage name of Vincent Furnier) heard the potential for the lines “Let the show begin/Let the lights grow dim” to directly address his concert audiences. So he added his own lyrics about the special dynamic between a star and his fans. Songwriter Kempf, far from objecting to the liberties, was delighted with the new lyrics. “He got the emotional essence of the tune right, and added a tag to bring it home,” the composer said.

Alice Cooper recorded his arena-rock interpretation of “Hello, Hooray” as the opening song on his platinum-selling album Billion Dollar Babies, produced by Canadian Music Hall of Famer and JUNO Award winner Bob Ezrin. Cooper’s single took an early start at No. 2 on Billboard magazine’s Pop Picks column for January 20, 1973, and in March peaked at No. 35 on Billboard‘s Top 40 chart.

“Hello, Hooray” was even more popular in the U.K., where the single peaked at No. 6 in February 1973, and was No. 66 overall for that year. The single was also competitive in Canada, featuring for more than 10 weeks on RPM’s Top 100 Singles chart through Spring 1973, peaking March 24 at No. 18 for two weeks.

The song has had a varied and successful run, from Judy Collins singing it at the Lincoln Center in 1969, to its appearance in the 2014 futuristic film X-Men: Days of Future Past. Since 1973, for more than 40 years, Alice Cooper has used the song to open his shows .

Rolf Kempf studied English literature at Hamilton’s McMaster University, performed in a folk group around Toronto, and moved to Los Angeles in the late 1960s. Based now in Vancouver, Kempf performs folk, world, jazz, and instrumental music.

To view 2015 and 2016 Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame song inductions and Covered Classics performances, click here.

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