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Alice Cooper

About Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper is the stage name and ‘fun villain’ character of Vincent Furnier, a name he took with him from his original band of the same name. Cooper became the target of parents and ministers for his dark lyrics and gory theatrical performances that earned him the title Godfather of Shock Rock. Despite once claiming the name was conjured from a ouija board that told him he’s the reincarnation of a 17th century witch, Cooper laughs the topic off with flippant answers like “It was either a Scrabble board or a bowl of alphabet soup” and “I didn’t want a name like Iron Butterfly or Black Sabbath. I wanted it to be something your aunt might be called.”

The Alice Cooper Band was originally signed by Frank Zappa to his own record label. Their first notoriety came when Cooper tossed a wayward chicken (possibly arranged by long-time manager Shep Gordon) into the crowd, who then tore it apart, at the 1969 Toronto Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival Festival. Newspapers claimed he’d bit the bird’s head off and drank its blood. Zappa advised them to not deny the story and Cooper used it as inspiration to make his character darker.

The band’s teaming with producer Bob Ezrin for their third album Love It To Death led to their US breakthrough with the US top 30 “I’m Eighteen” in early 1971. By then, the band was already infamous for their stage show, which had escalated into simulated torture and executions. That same year, Killer was released with its two singles finding moderate US success and both albums being certified gold the following year.

School’s Out and Billion Dollar Babies expanded the band’s success to overseas with four songs cracking the top 20 in several countries including the UK chart-topper “School’s Out”. Both albums reached the top 10 around the globe. The band’s stage show now incorporated decapitation of dolls with butcher knives and props like the gallows, a guillotine and a live boa constrictor.

Less success with their sixth album Muscle Of Love and strained relations between members drove Furnier to legally change his name to Alice Cooper and begin a solo career in 1975 with the release of Welcome To My Nightmare. His first four solo efforts were internationally successful, but sales were largely fueled by his softer ballads “Only Women Bleed”, “I Never Cry”, “You and Me” and “How You Gonna See Me Now”. Bob Ezrin stopped producing Cooper’s albums halfway through this era.

By the late 1970s, Cooper’s public image softened with appearances on The Muppets, Hollywood Squares and in various films including Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. By the early 1980s, punk and hair metal began to make his 70s glam rock look tame. Meanwhile, Cooper was drinking himself almost to death. His next four albums from 1980-1983 only offered one US top 40 and a few modest chart appearances overseas.

After being hospitalized more than once for alcholism and dropped from his record label, Cooper finally got sober and renewed his faith in 1984, reinventing his character as an abuser instead of a victim:

Alice had to be reborn as an arrogant villain. Now he wasn’t the one who was beaten, he was the one who was going to beat. He was the dominatrix, he wasn’t the trick.

Cooper’s next two albums for MCA Records were somewhat more successful than his previous four, but it wasn’t until 1989’s Poison for Epic Records, a collaborative effort with hitmaker Desmond Child, that Cooper had his big comeback. Its title track reached the top 30 in several countries and three more singles found further scattered chart success, helping Poison reach the top 20 around the world. Efforts since, however, have not generated the same level of massive worldwide chart success, the best showing being in the UK where he scored five more modest hits in the first half of the 90s.

In 1999, two years after the passing of The Alice Cooper Band guitarist Glen Buxton, Cooper reunited with his remaining old bandmates for a single performance. In the 2000s, Cooper received a number of awards including a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, an honorary degree, a key to the city of Alice, North Dakota, and a living legend award. The original incarnation of The Alice Cooper Band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2011.

Most recently, Cooper has participated as frontman of the supergroup Hollywood Vampires alongside Joe Perry of Aerosmith and actor Johnny Depp. He also released his 27th studio album Paranormal in 2017 featuring “The Sound Of A” – a song lost for five decades that Cooper had originally written for The Alice Cooper Band in 1967.

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