CSHF inducts classic “Hello, Hooray,” popularized by Judy Collins, Alice Cooper

Fast Romantics (Photo: Cathy Irving, CBC Music)
November 21, 2016

The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame  (CSHF) today inducted “Hello Hooray,” written by Rolf Kempf and popularized by both folksinger Judy Collins in 1968 and shock-rocker Alice Cooper in 1973. The induction is celebrated with a tribute performance by 2016 SOCAN Songwriting Prize winners Fast Romantics for the Hall of Fame’s Covered Classics series. Covered Classics honours and celebrates newly inducted songs by inviting Canada’s brightest musical talents to perform their own renditions of these classics.

Songwriter and SOCAN member Rolf Kempf had made a career move from Toronto to Los Angeles, but his band soon broke up and left, and worse yet, someone had stolen his guitar. Reflecting on these events, jamming on a borrowed guitar beside a swimming pool, he composed “Hello, Hooray,” – a song about re-inventing oneself after hard times. A few days later, Judy Collins stopped by, looking for new songs. Kempf played his new song, and “I fell in love with it the moment I heard it,” Collins declared in her memoirs.

Collins recorded "Hello, Hooray" on her 1968 album Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (along with a few other Canadian classics: Ian Tyson’s "Someday Soon" and the late Leonard Cohen’s "Bird on a Wire"). Kempf’s original words were about renewing the spirit to start over, and hint at the idea of reincarnation.

Alice Cooper 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. Kempf was delighted with the new lyrics. Cooper recorded his arena-rock version on his 1973 Billion Dollar Babies album, produced by Bob Ezrin (later a Canadian Music Hall of Famer, JUNO and SOCAN Award winner).

Released as a single, Cooper’s version debuted at No. 2 on Billboard magazine’s Pop Picks column for Jan. 20, 1973, and peaked at No. 35 on the Billboard Top 40 chart. "Hello, Hooray" was even more popular in the U.K., where the single peaked at No. 6 in February 1973. In Canada, the single stayed on RPM’s Top 100 Singles chart for 10 weeks through spring 1973, peaking at No. 18 for two weeks.

The song has also appeared in the 2014 movie X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Kempf has performed it at the Vancouver Paralympic Games. Based now in Surrey, BC, Kempf performs folk, world, jazz, and instrumental music. He continues to co-write on occasion with Alan Gerber and Stephen Kalinich, who has co-written several songs with Brian Wilson in the Pet Sounds era.

“Hello Hooray,”
Written by Rolf Kempf
Performed by Fast Romantics
More about the song