Alice Cooper

  • Shock Rocker born Vincent Furnier in 1948, in Detroit Michigan. His musical career originated in Phoenix Arizona.
  • At the age of 16, Furnier wanted to be in a high school talent show, so he got 4 members of his cross country track team to form a band named the Earwigs. They dressed in costumes to look like the Beatles, and they sang Beatles songs with the lyrics changed to refer to the track team. Only one member could play an instrument, so while he played, the others pretended to play instruments. They crowd loved them, and they won the contest.
  • Based on this success, they bought instruments at a pawn shop and started to learn to play. Furnier handled the vocals. They renamed themselves The Spiders, and once they learned to play, they performed regularly around the Phoenix area.
  • In 1965, The Spiders recorded a single. The next year, they released another single, after graduating from high school. In 1967, they relocated to Los Angeles, renamed themselves Nazz, and released another single.
  • In 1968, realizing that the band name Nazz was already being used, they changed the name of the band to Alice Cooper. Alice Cooper was a character on the 60s TV show Mayberry R.F.D. They decided that they could get publicity if Furnier played the role of a villain while performing, wearing make-up and tattered women’s clothing.
  • After a gig at a club in Venice California where all of
  • the audience members left after the band played for 10 minutes, they were approached by a music manager who thought that their act had potential. The manager had them audition for Frank Zappa’s record label, and they signed a 3 album deal.
  • Furnier changed his name to Alice Cooper in the early 70s, setting himself up for a solo career later.
  • Their shock rock style developed by accident. They were performing in Toronto in 1969, and somehow a live chicken ended up on stage. Cooper thought it would fly, so he picked it up and threw it toward the crowd. Of course, it ended up in the first few rows, where it was torn into pieces. The incident made headlines nationally, and included stories that he had bitten off the head of the chicken and drunk its blood. Cooper denied that, though Zappa told him to tell people that he did.
  • Their first 2 albums, in 1969 and 1970, were eclectic and psychedelic, and were not popular at all. The band decided to move to Detroit, thinking that their bizarre stage act would play better in the midwest. Their third album, Love It To Death, finally produced a hit in 1970 with the single I’m Eighteen, which reached # 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
  • Their next album, Killer, had modest success, and their stage show to promote the record continued to push the boundaries of morality. It included a live boa constrictor, axe chopping of bloodied baby dolls and hangings at the gallows.
  • The band’s next 2 albums were their most successful. School’s Out was released in 1972 – it peaked at #2, and the single School’s Out remains a staple on classic rock stations today, hitting #7 on the singles chart. Billion Dollar Babies was released in 1973 – 4 singles were released, including No More Mr. Nice Guy and Elected. 
  • By this time, politicians and religious groups were clamoring for Alice Cooper to be banned from the radio and from performing – this only increased the band’s popularity. The famous guillotine prop was added to the show – the audience loved to watch the execution scene.
  • In 1975, Cooper became a solo artist, using different musicians to back him. The album Welcome To My Nightmare was a success, with the single Only Women Bleed, a ballad that reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Three more solo albums were released in the 70s. Cracking the top 10 was one single – the soft rock ballad You and Me. 
  • Cooper has continued to release albums throughout the 80s, 90s, 00s, and even the 10s. His most recent album, Paranormal, was released in July of this year. In total, he has released 27 studio albums, 11 live albums and 48 singles. He also has toured throughout the decades, and is in the middle of an extensive global tour now.
  • The band Alice Cooper was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
  • Cooper is one of the first heavy metal rock artists, shaping the look and sound of the genre. I particularly like I’m Eighteen – great song about teenage angst, with a spin of positivity – “I’m eighteen and I like it!” Watch these glam rockers perform School’s Out from 1972 – a perfect song for summer break for the kids! Love the kids on the stage singing along!

1 thought on “Alice Cooper”

  1. Went to an Alice Cooper concert in 1978 at the St Paul Civic Center when someone threw a Tear-Gas canister during an encore while playing Schools Out. The place turned into a stampede for the exits! I am shocked nobody died! The band stopped playing one at a time until the Tear-Gas reached their part of the stage with the bass line ending last. Met him years later working at the old Met Center, he remembered that show vividly as the most bizarre show they had EVER played! Google it “Alice Cooper Tear gas concert”. Thanks for the memories Mark!!!

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