On the occasion of Alice Cooper‘s birthday, today 4th February, we tell you the story of this artist, the most prominent member of what can be defined “horror entertainment”. Or, as he was called, “The Godfather of Shock Rock“
Well, stoopids of the whole world, let’s unite to retrace his long career, which has known dizzying peaks and tremendous meltdowns, and which still continues today.
Alice Cooper, born Vincent Damon Furnier was born on February 4, 1948 in Detroit. He turns 72 today and is still an amazing and thrilling performer!
The son of a Southwestern preacher, Cooper moved with his family when he was 12, first to California and then to Arizona, where the Furniers lived in a trailer park.
Cooper developed an early passion for music and formed his first rock band in high school. The history of music is full of bands formed in high school, think for example of the Beatles, Green Day, Cure and Nirvana, just to name a few.
Speaking of Beatles, Cooper’s first band, which was called Earwigs and later renamed The Spiders, covered the Liverpool quartet, but also the Rolling Stones and Who – that Cooper loved. After exhausting the local bar scene, the group moved to Los Angeles.
By this time they had developed an angry, direct and dark sound that critics initially detested. However, with Cooper in the role of frontman, their music even got the attention of Frank Zappa, who signed a record deal with the young musicians.
The “birth” of Alice Cooper
In 1969 The Spiders changed their name to Alice Cooper.
According to Smith and Dunaway, two band members, the group was playing with a Ouija board, asking about past lives, “Then Vince [Furnier] sat down and asked the board for his name in a previous life. It wrote Alice Cooper . “
But frontman Furnier / Cooper tells it differently. In an interview with the Shreveport Times, Furnier thought their band’s name should be in stark contrast to their theatricality on stage. He said, ‘What if our name sounds like we’re somebody’s aunt?’ You need a kind name of an all-American and sweet old lady. “
And so the band started calling themselves Alice Cooper, not the frontman. This happened sometime later when Furnier, turned solo, legally changed his name to Alice Cooper.
In 1969, the year of the name change, the band released their first album, Pretties for You. A year later a subsequent album, Easy Action, was released. Almost immediately after the release of the first albums, the group gained a reputation for outrageous performances.
Performances and the chicken incident
Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when we talked about the bat thrown at Ozzy Osbourne by a fan? Here, Alice Cooper also experienced a sort of accident of the same type, but with a different animal.
In fact it was a live chicken that was thrown onto the stage. Cooper replied by throwing it back to the sender, thinking it would fly away. Instead the audience tore it apart!
“After that episode we should get the approval of the humanitarian associations in every city we played in,” said Cooper himself, as reported in the volume Alice Cooper… welcome to my nightmare… by Dave Thompson.
Four years later he told the story to another magazine and edited it and, each time, it took a different turn with new rumors that, of course, Cooper adored and fed.
In 1997 he even told him to Kerrang! the following truth: “The first ten rows of the audience were all people in wheelchairs. It was the invalids who tore the chicken apart.”
No matter what the truth is in this “chicken coop” of information, what matters is the show that entertained and shocked thousands of people.
The live performances contained numerous scenic elements such as guillotines, electric chairs, murdered dolls and the infamous (real) boa twisted around the neck, as well as the characteristic corpse paint, facial make-up with a “cadaveric” appearance.
Even in 1973 surrealist artist Salvador Dalí filmed the singer, wearing diamond necklaces and a tiara, biting the head from a small replica of the Venus de Milo for a holographic work.
In those years the group released a series of hits that entered the rock discography, such as Killer (1972), School’s Out (1972), Billion Dollar Babies (1973) and Muscle of Love (1974).
In 1974, Alice Cooper separated from her bandmates and took the name with himself.
The following year he released his first solo album, Welcome to My Nightmare, which earned him continued critical praise and great commercial success. The same lucky fate had the 1976 album Alice Cooper Goes to Hell.
If the albums talked about ending badly and going to hell, Alice Cooper’s life was also coming to the same end. He found himself being treated in a detox clinic.
At the end of the course, he became a born again Christian and a golf enthusiast, things that allowed him to find his way back to life. Critics however claimed that his music didn’t recover as much as he did. Two albums, Special Forces (1981) and Zipper Catches Skin (1982), proved particularly disappointing. But in 1989, Cooper again jumped to the top of the charts with the album Trash.
The nineties proved to be the singer’s most inactive period, who only released two studio albums. In 1991 Hey Stoopid was released, which received good acclaim. Big names collaborate on the record, coming from rock and’heavy metal such as Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Slash and Nikki Sixx.
Alice Cooper projects in 2000
Over the past 20 years (and that’s no small feat!) Cooper has enjoyed a string of successes, both in the studio and elsewhere. He made a famous cameo in the movie Wayne’s World (1992), and later appeared as himself again in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows (2012).
After this last cameo, Cooper planned to create a new band with Johnny Depp, featured in the aforementioned film. The band called Hollywood Vampires made its debut in 2015 and also includes Joe Perry, although it boasts the participation of many other famous names in music, such as Paul McCartney.
In 2004 he launched his hugely successful radio show, Nights With Alice Cooper. During the program, Cooper collects requests and performs his favorite songs about him, responds to his fan mails and interviews celebrities.
In recent years Cooper has reunited with living members of his old band, and in 2011 the group was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Cooper continues to tour and record new music. In 2017 he released Paranormal, which includes contributions from old “bandmates” and other famous artists, such as Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Roger Glover of Deep Purple.
And do we want to talk about Easter Sunday 2018? Cooper’s acclaimed theatrical sense made him perfect for live television productionofi Jesus Christ Superstar, broadcast that very day! Cooper played the role of King Herod, alongside John Legend as the protagonist and Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene.
Hey Alice Cooper, I recommend for years to come, never stooooop doing what you do!