The Truth About Johnny Depp's Relationship With Alice Cooper

Johnny Depp is best known as an actor who has played iconic fictional characters like Jack Sparrow and Willy Wonka, and performed real-life roles like Hunter S. Thompson and Ed Wood, but some may not realize that the accomplished actor is also a musician. Depp is a member of the band the Hollywood Vampires alongside two of the biggest names in rock 'n' roll history: Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, and shock-rock legend Alice Cooper.

The band formed in 2015. However, since then, Depp has been in a legal bind following his divorce from Amber Heard. The messy ordeal has led to several high-profile court cases, including a defamation suit Depp filed against Heard after claiming she falsely accused him of abuse (via NPR).

Depp came up in an interview Cooper did with The Daily Beast, with the singer saying that Depp is one of his best friends and that his current legal woes have no bearing on his place in Hollywood Vampires. Cooper also expressed hopes of the supergroup putting out a second album.

Depp's love for music runs deep

Before finding immense success on the big screen, Johnny Depp originally pursued a music career. According to Inquistr, Depp dropped out of high school in the 1980s with hopes of making it with his band, the Kids. The band did manage to find themselves touring with some big names, such as punk luminaries Iggy Pop and the Ramones, as well the Talking Heads. However, music took a backseat when acting opportunities came up. Depp continued playing with bands, and appeared on a few tracks with the British band Oasis.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Depp is still wary of the idea of actors trying to parlay their acting fame into a music career. "That whole idea for me is a sickening thing, it's always just made me sick," he said. "I've been very lucky to play on friends' records and it's still going. Music is still part of my life."

How Hollywood Vampires formed

While the Hollywood Vampires officially formed in 2015, the genesis of the band — and especially their name — goes back many decades earlier. Before the name belonged to a high-profile, Cooper-fronted supergroup, it belonged to a high-profile, Cooper-fronted drinking club. According to NME, the band's name is an homage to a group Cooper used to drink with in the 1970s. It included the likes of John Lennon, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson, the Monkees' Mickey Dolenz, and Elton John's frequent songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. The musically diverse boozing fraternity hung out at Hollywood's Rainbow Bar and Grill and soon earned their now-famous nickname.

"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," Cooper said. He also mentioned that the club didn't just frequent the bar, they also had a presence in an unexpected place: the softball diamond.

Cooper pointed out that the Hollywood Vampires softball team didn't include some of the bigger names from the drinking society — "John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, and Keith Moon would never play baseball," he said. Other celebrities, however — including Dolenz and some of his Monkees bandmates and comedian Albert Brooks, among them — "we'd get up on Sunday and play against some of the other teams around town, like the 'Happy Days' team. It sounds ridiculous, but we actually practiced, and we were pretty good!"

Cooper has been a big Depp defender

In 2018, while Depp was still in a legal battle with his now-ex-wife, rumors started to circulate that the star was in poor health (via Yahoo! Entertainment). The next year, Cooper defended his friend and bandmate, saying that all those rumors were completely untrue — "99% was just bull," he said. "I've never seen him look better in my life. I've never seen him happier. I've never heard him play better, and the way the press would have it is he's a total destruction and ready to die. Totally not true," Cooper told Billboard.

Cooper told the Daily Beast in 2021 that Depp had been writing songs for the Hollywood Vampires' sophomore effort. He even suggested that the challenges, legal and otherwise, Depp was facing might power some of the new music. "[T]hat's not going to stop him from going home and writing. In fact, it probably helped. I'm expecting some pretty interesting songs."