Alice Cooper, born Vincent Damon Furnier, came into this world on February 4, 1948 in Detroit, and he is the object of my desire. Okay, maybe not my carnal desires, but I have always wanted to BE like Vincent. I attended his concerts with alarming regularity when I was a teenager, and still continue to, whenever he is even remotely close to where I am.
Vincent is the son of a southern Baptist preacher, and was always somewhat of a rebel. His stage antics in the early 70's helped to coin the phrase "Shock Rock", and he is still pushing the envelope even today. "We were into fun, sex, death and money when everyone was into peace and love," Alice explains. "We wanted to see what was next. It turned out we were next, and we drove a stake through the heart of the Love Generation."
Vincent also owns a couple of really nice sports/music restaurants in the Detroit area, you should check them out as well.
Okay, here goes the part where I tell a story that only matters really to me...
When I was 16, I attended an Alice Cooper concert in Lafayette, Louisiana. The Vinnie Vincent Invasion (Really cool, that) was opening up for Alice, and I had backstage passes. (Working for music stores sometimes has its advantages.) At any rate, I had on a pair of mismatched Converse High Tops. (I can see you rolling your eyes at me, so DON'T!) On one shoe was written, "Thanks, Parkland", and on the other, "Alice is God". Now, I have to tell you, that if I were going to believe in God, I would want him to be like Alice Cooper, but that is neither here nor there.
I was sitting on a stool backstage watching the guys from VVI play a sort of rollerblade tag (OVER AND AROUND all of the cords and lighting effects.), and noticed a pretty older woman saunter up next to me. She sat down by me, and was silent for a few minutes. Then she looked me in the eyes and said, "He's a lot of things, honey, but he AIN'T God." and she smiled. She then proceeded to introduce herself to me, as Ms. Furnier. I was so embarrassed! She was married to my hero! What should I say? What COULD I say? I blushed, laughed a little nervously, and then followed her shyly for the rest of the evening. It turns out that she was right, and in a way, I was sad. I had lost my hero. He was just someone's dad, husband, and boss.
Later in the evening, after Alice Cooper's Raise Your Fist and Yell! concert had ended, he, himself was seated next to me! A stagehand came around and asked if anyone wanted something from Taco Bell, and we all placed orders. I sat nervously next to Vincent for about 45 minutes, and then the roadies came back with the food. After passing out all of the food himself, Vincent turned to me and said, "You want a Sprite?" I said, "Ummm. Uh. Sure!" (I was pretty profound those days.)
Vincent turned around, picked something up out of a bag, and then threw it at me! It was a small, round, fuzzy thing with rainbow colored antennae and legs! A Rainbow Sprite! It made little squeaking noises when you shook it. I was confused. Vince started to laugh, though, and said that HE had ordered Sprite, and that is what they sent. I know that it is silly, but to this day, I have that silly squeaky toy in my hope chest. After all, it was a present from Alice Cooper! And it hadn't even been BLED first!
I spent the rest of the evening (well into the night) with the band, talking and laughing. There was little or no drinking on the bus (which was huge) but a lot of intense discussions about life and a couple of silly discussions about life after death. I got to talk to Ms. Furnier and to Vince for at least two hours alone. They gave me a lot of advice on life and the music business, and ways to deal with my parents (with whom I was still living). I taught them to play bourre (a Cajun card game), and then I promptly lost all of my money to Ms. Furnier. It was one of the best nights of my life, barring the birth of my children years later.
The next four concerts that I saw Alice Cooper, I had no backstage passes. Which would make me sad, except for he personally acknowledged me at each of them! I had showed him my friend's "thumbs up" sign, which consists of licking your index finger and waving with it, and every time that I caught his eye, he DID THAT!!! He remembered me!! That was a very important factor in my life for quite some time. Now I cannot tell you why, except for to say that it is good for one's self esteem to be esteemed in the eyes of your role models or idols. And even now, when I think back on it, all I can think of is that somehow, I touched his life, too.
Okay, this is a short list for some nameless people in the catbox. All of these bands admit to more than a passing influence from Alice Cooper:
Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, KISS, The New York Dolls, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Iggy & The Stooges, Motley Crue, Lou Reed, Hanoi Rocks, Boy George, Slade, Parliment-Funkadelic, The Tubes, T. Rex, Elton John, The Runaways, Guns-N-Roses, Gary Glitter, Aerosmith, The Dead Boys, Adam Ant, Poison, Prince, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Twisted Sister, Devo, Megadeth, The Plasmatics, Madonna, Gwar, Cheap Trick, Zodiac Mindwarp, Alien Sex Fiend, W.A.S.P., The Rolling Stones, The Cramps, Rob Zombie, Ozzy Osbourne, David Lee Roth, and Elvis. Even Bob Dylan says, and I quote, "I think that Alice Cooper is an overlooked songwriter."