SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (AP) -- Heavy metal icon Alice Cooper was in South Dakota on Wednesday to help kick-off a 6,000-square-foot (558-sq. meter) rock ‘n’ roll academy for local Boys & Girls Club members. Complete with a recording studio and performance space, the center will offer lessons and have all kinds of loud stuff—including a few high-end drum sets from Warrant guitarist Joey Allen and guitars from members of KISS.
Cooper opened his long-dreamed Rock Teen Center in Phoenix last week, and he said he wanted to help his friend Chuck Brennan offer a similar opportunity in Brennan’s hometown of Sioux Falls. Brennan, who founded Dollar Loan Center, grew up down the street from the academy and was a Boys Club kid.
Cooper said the best way to get teens off the streets is to put a guitar in their hands, teach them how to play and get them into a band.
“We say, ‘give me your 9-millimeter and we’ll give you a guitar,”’ the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer told a crowd of club members and local officials. “I think that’s a fair trade.”
Brennan said students will get the opportunity to learn to sing or play guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. They’ll also have full access to rehearsal rooms, a performance area and a recording studio, where they’ll be able to learn how to work a sound board.
Brennan, who was a huge backer for Cooper’s project in Arizona, is kicking in an initial $100,000 to complete the build and buy instruments for the Brennan Rock & Roll Academy. It’s housed in a building he and his business partners own, and he’s committed to paying its rent for 20 years, bringing his contribution to $3 million. He expects the school to open in four to five months.
“You’re going to be the cool kid in school right now when you figure out how to play the drums,” Brennan, who now lives in Las Vegas, told a group of kids gathered in front of the stage.
Michael Moore, a 13-year-old Boys & Girls Clubs member, won the honor of presenting Brennan with a thank you card signed by club members. The teen said he was “absolutely elated” when Brennan surprised him by telling him to choose any of the Fender electric guitars on stage and keep it.
Moore said he tried the guitar a few times but doesn’t really know how to play, then quickly added with a grin: “I’ll make sure I learn it now.”