Way back in 1964 a boy named Vincent Furnier convinced some of his school chums to take part in a talent event. None of them could play a musical instrument, but that did not stop them. They forged a band called the Earwigs, dressed up just like the Beatles and mimicked the total show. In spite of not really being musicians, the boys won. They promptly learned to play, then they hit the stage as a genuine band.
With an actual group in place, they could finally begin to create some music. The band changed their name several times, first they were the Earwigs, and then the Spiders, and the Nazz. Finally in 1968, they chose the public name 'The Alice Cooper Band'. Three years later, Vincent legally changed his name to Alice Cooper. Some say the name comes from a Ouija board sitting, but Alice himself states the name popped out of thin air, not from ghosts in the other worlds. It is supposed to invoke the picture of a sweet little girl holding a hatchet behind her back. It sure does! Wheresoever the name came, it was a superb career move both for Alice and the rest of the group!
It was not long after the band and Alice's name swap that they were noticed by Frank Zappa. Zappa was seeking freaky stage acts to add to his brand new record endeavor, Straight Records. Alice Cooper was for sure bizarre enough and Zappa took them on for a three record deal. The first album, 'Pretties For You' was all but a washout, only hitting #193 for a week on the U.S. Charts. Still, they continued to produce their own wild brand of rock 'n roll.
Alice Cooper made a huge impact on the press during an show at the Toronto Rock & Roll Revival concert in 1969. Says Alice, a chicken wandered unexpectedly on to the stage during his show. He picked the chicken up, assuming it would fly, and pitched it into the crowd. The bird wound up in the laps of handicapped people in wheelchairs up in the front. By all accounts, these fans tore the poor bird to bits. The press, nevertheless, said that Alice bit the head right off and drank the birds blood. Alice, even then, denied the allegations, saying it was all a strange accident. The rumors were not squelched though, and the incident became the talk of the music industry.
Alice Cooper wasn't anything like the blue jean wearing, long haired hippie bands of the time. These men put on tight jeweled costumes unlike anything seen before. Their stage show was dark and ominous, including striking mock fights and medieval torture methods. At the end of the performance, Alice would be tortured for his demented ways by being put to death. In the beginning, this was done by electric chair, later on it developed into hanging, and then the guillotine. Throughout the 1970's, Cooper earned more and more credit, both from fans and the music industry.
During the mid 1970's, Alice had made up his mind to pursue a solo career. The decision made sense, but his heavy boozing was starting to impact his performance. He checked into the New York Sanitarium for treatment. His term there was the aspiration for the 1978 album 'From The Inside'. The early 80's proved to be less than productive for Alice. Although he released several albums, none achieved the success of those in the 1970's.
His alcohol addiction was also taking it's toll and he was once again checked in for treatment. For almost a year, Cooper kept himself away from the public eye. He concentrated his attentions instead on being a full-time father and working on his golf game. By the mid 1980's Alice was clean, sober, and ready to rock again. His '86 album, 'Constrictor', spawned a tour fittingly named 'The Nightmare Returns'. The last leg of the tour was shot on film in Detroit at the close of October and it's even, to this very day, looked at as the definitive Alice Cooper concert film. The rock and roll music press loved the album, the singles and performances. Cooper was back in all his glory, offering fans a violent, convoluted view of the world like only Alice can.
Alice's icon stature increased during the 90's among fans and other bands. He's worked with a few younger generation artists such as Guns N' Roses and Insane Clown Posse. Plus, he made cameo appearances on 'Wayne's World' and 'Freddy's Dead The Final Nightmare'. As the new century made its way around, Cooper did not slow down a bit. In 2000, Alice released 'Brutal Planet', which was a return to Cooper's style of heavy metal. It was inspired by the brutality of the modern world and featured a raw industrial rock feel. It was a total success and opened Alice up to a whole new generation of fans.
In 2003, the critically acclaimed album, 'The Eyes Of Alice Cooper', was released. The tour that followed was a huge change from Coopers theatrics of the past. The 'Bare Bones' tour featured a less orchestrated performance style, rather focusing on the music. The result is that Alice's older songs were at last recognized for their uniqueness. Alice bore on with this style for his 24th studio album in 2005, 'Dirty Diamonds'.
In 2004, 'Nights With Alice Cooper', Alice's radio show began to air. Cooper does interviews with large rock stars and a chance to hear unusual tunes from famous groups. He also shares stories from his long career and offers up his own unique brand of humor in the radio show.
When will this rocker slow down? It does not look like it will happen soon. In spite of turning 60 this year, Alice is to this day one of the strongest, most gifted rock star's out there!
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K.L. "Vin" Hayes leads a team of freelance writers and researchers. Over the last 10 years, they have worked together to produce high-quality digital information. You may contact him through his web sites; audioflip.com & biblioflip.com
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