Alice Cooper - Not just another pretty face
Alice Cooper is one of the great kings of old school American rock music. He is defined as his image, big scary black and white gothic make up. His stage shows are legendarily theatrical.
Born in February 4, 1948, Vincent Damon Furnier grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, after his parents decided to move from Michigan. His impressive vocal style led him to form many rock bands, the first of which being the ‘Earwigs’. Little did his Cortez High School journalism buddies Glen Buxton and Dennis Dunaway, know that they would later be in his main Shock Rock band, Alice Cooper.
So what’s all this about him changing his name to a girls name? Is he a transsexual or something?
According to his biography, good old Alice (then Vincent) was at home one day when his ma decided to whip out the old Ouija board (as you do). The board then began to spell out the name A-L-I-C-E-C-O-O-P-E-R. Boys being boys they took this name and ran wild with it. Legend has it that Alice Cooper hundreds of years ago was a witch, burned alive at the stake. Vincent was obviously the reincarnation of said heathen. He legally changed his name from Vincent to Alice in 1974.
The story changes through time; he claims that it had "a Baby-Jane/Lizzie-Borden-sweet-and-innocent-with-a-hatchet-behind-the-back kind of rhythm to it."
He has also stated;
“Alice Cooper is such an all-American name. I loved the idea that when we first started, people used to think that Alice Cooper was a blonde folk singer. The name started simply as a spit in the face of society. With a name like Alice Cooper, we could really make 'em suffer."
I’ve heard an old rumour going around that Alice Cooper was an old girlfriend of his.
Anyway, to put a long story short – he isn’t a transsexual.
Whatever you choose to believe about Alice, it cannot be denied that his band was one of the first Shock Rockers around, "We brought theatrics to rock 'n' roll. We did it before Bowie; we did it before Kiss and before anybody. There was no show biz in rock 'n' roll before Alice Cooper.” Says Alice in an interview with The Tribune.
Alice Cooper has always been known for his extreme shows; rumour flew up with word of mouth at every turn. One of the biggest rumours was that Alice bit heads off chickens during his stage shows. Let me put an end to this rumour- during a gig a fan threw a chicken on stage. Thinking that chickens could fly Alice threw the chicken up into the air. Needless to say it fell into a pit of rabid fans and was torn to pieces underneath their feet. As soon as the press heard of this they embellished it (just a little) to imply that Alice had actually bitten the poor chickens head off and drank its blood, no less.
ASPCA took heed. Pete Townshend of The Who decided was gullible enough to support the press in their cry out against Alice. He gave a statement,
"I remember being horrified seeing Alice Cooper beheading live chickens onstage. And it didn't really redeem him that I had smashed guitars, you know? Somewhere, there was a line. I don't know whether it was because it was live, or because it was real blood. But the fact that he later went on to make some great records didn't redeem him, either. He's sick, tragic, pathetic- and will always be that way. I'll say hello to him on the street, but I'll never tip my hat to him."
As society changed, so did Alice (I keep using his first name like we’re buddies or something – ah well). It soon became apparent that his hard sound and theatrics were not enough for the day’s society, subjected to visions of war and violence every day. He donned make up and played with stage props such as make-up, boa constrictors, and fake blood. He even strapped himself to a life-size working guillotine and was beheaded at the end of every show of his Billion Dollar Babies tour. No chicken blood. His stage show seems to parallel that of bands such as Marilyn Manson and Deicide. Alice Cooper's light-hearted approach to entertainment means that his fans don’t go away feeling upset, rather feeling amazed and brilliant.
As well as having a prolific career as a performing artist, he is also renowned behind the scenes. He has worked on other artists’ albums, as well as having them perform on his album. Artists such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Ozzy Osbourne all know and love Alice through their work together. Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine indeed has Alice as a godfather, and I understand that they are close buddies.
Alice has his own restaurant in Phoenix called Alice Cooper’s town, which he regularly visits and critiques on the chefs’ culinary skills. He has a wife, Sheryl, and three kids.
Still going on strong, even in his fifties, he’s had over 25 releases since his debut in 1969, Pretties For You to Dragontown in 2001.
Alice Cooper – Vocalist
Glen Buxton – Guitar (sadly died in 1997)
Michael Bruce – Guitar
Dennis Dunaway – Bass
Neal Smith - Drums
This is not Alice Cooper as it is now, Alice and his band mates amicably split up in 1975. Since then he has been backed by Lou Reed’s band and various other session players.
Even if you don’t buy any of his albums, go and see him live.
- Pretties for You
- Easy Action
- Love It to Death
- School's Out
- Billion Dollar Babies
- Muscle of Love
- Greatest Hits
- Welcome to My Nightmare
- Goes to Hell
- Lace & Whiskey
- Alice Cooper Show
- From the Inside
- Flush the Fashion
- Special Forces
- Zipper Catches Skin
- Raise Your Fist and Yell
- To Hell and Back
- Hey Stoopid
- Last Temptation
- Fistful of Alice
- The Life & Crimes of Alice Cooper
- Brutal Planet