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.'"
On Saturday, December 14, THE MCBRAINIACS, the band featuring IRON MAIDEN drummer Nicko McBrain, performed at the 10th-anniversary celebration for Rock N Roll Ribs, the barbecue restaurant owned by McBrain and close friend Mitch Tanne, in Coral Springs, Florida. Joining THE MCBRAINIACS on stage for five songs was former JUDAS PRIEST and ICED EARTH singer Tim "Ripper" Owens. Owens played the following tracks with THE MCBRAINIACS: 01. Wrathchild (IRON MAIDEN) 02. Flight Of Icarus (IRON MAIDEN) 03. Living After Midnight (JUDAS PRIEST) 04. You've Got Another Thing Comin' (JUDAS PRIEST) 05. Breaking The Law (JUDAS PRIEST) Fan-filmed video footage can be seen below. A barbecue joint with a musical bent, Rock N Roll Ribs showcases its love for smokey Southern cooking with food like barbecued pork and chicken and clever takes on MAIDEN songs, like "Run to the Hills" wings. "It's not just MAIDEN fans that come in," McBrain said about the restaurant in a 2010 interview. "We do get a lot of pilgrimages, people come in and look at all the stuff on the walls, but most people that come in always come out satisfied. And it's not major expensive. A rack of ribs is [$20], and you get a pound and a quarter to a pound and a half of ribs." Asked if he has always been a BBQ fan, McBrain told Broward Palm Beach New Times in a 2013 interview: "Yeah! You know, I'm a Brit, and we don't have a very long summer, so it's very few and far between people get out and do a barbie in the backyard. Touring around America, I always used to love buying a rack of baby backs and some cole slaw and French Fries, and that was my main BBQ experience, the baby backs. Then a friend of mine taught me how to make the ribs we make in the restaurant, and I started to make some sauce, and it was very successful and people liked it, and that's where Rock N Roll Ribs was born, really. It was a dream we had and it finally came into fruition. I've got to be honest, it's not a business that's making a lot of money for us, but we make a lot of people smile and a lot of people happy. I'm very happy, it's great! I love it when I meet people and they say things like, 'these are the ribs I've ever had,' or, 'Your pulled pork is to die for,' and it warms the cockles of me heart!" Rock N Roll Ribs 4651 State Rd. 7 (US441) Coral Springs, FL 33073 954-345-RIBZ (7429) www.rocknrollribs.org