Living Legends Music
Search: Browse: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Currently Playing:

Click here to tune in!

Group Members
Alice Cooper
Glen Buxton
Michael Bruce
Dennis Dunaway
Neal Smith
Mick Mashbir
Bob Dolin
Steve Hunter
Dick Wagner
Josef Chirowski
Penti Glan
Prakash John
Allan Schwartzberg
Dennis Conway
Davey Johnstone
Jefferson Kewley
Bob Kulick
Tony Levin
Fred Mandel
Dee Murray
Mark Stein
Duane Hitchings
Craig Krampf
Richard Kolinka
Mike Pinera
Erik Scott
Jan Uvena
Kane Roberts
Kip Winger
Paul Taylor
Donnie Kisselbach
Ken Mary
Billy Steele
Tommy Caradonna
Pete Friesen
Vinnie Moore
Jonathan Mover
Al Pitrelli
Eric Singer
Teddy Andreadis
Reb Beach
Stef Burns
Eric Dover
Steve Farris
Todd Jensen
Matt Laug
Bob Marlette
Merrit Morrison
Ryan Roxie
Greg Smith
David Vosikkinen
Dan Wexler
Chuck Wright
Tommy Clufetos
Chuck Garric
Damon Johnson
Artie Funaro
David Rosenberg
Derek Sherinian
Jimmy DeGrasso
Bob Ezrin
Jim Gordon

=Living Legend

Alice Cooper

Visit Artist WebsiteTour InformationPurchase AlbumsView DiscographyYoutube

The Alice Cooper story begins on February 4, 1948, in Detroit, Michigan, when Vincent Furnier, displaying the ear-splitting vocal calisthenics that would serve him well in the decades to come, came kicking and screaming into an unsuspecting world. After several years of living in the oppressive shadow of massive automobile factories, the family decided to change their environment by relocating to the desert ambience of Phoenix, Arizona.

This fortuitous move meant that Vincent would be fated to enroll at Cortez High School, where his naturally abundant supply of cheap wit landed him the opportunity to write for the school newspaper. “Get Outta My Hair,” his wise-guy column, brought him the friendship of two fellow student journalists: soon-to-be lead and bass guitarists Glen Buxton and Dennis Dunaway.

As luck would have it, all three were looking for a way to score with the female Cortezians. Vince and Dennis decided to join the Cortez track team, of all things, whereupon their marathon running prowess made them instant varsity heroes.

This first exposure to fame was sufficient enough to embolden their self-confidence to the point where, along with fellow marathoner John Speer (on drums), Glen, and Glen’s pal John Tatum (on lead guitar), they decided to don wigs and enter their lettermen’s talent show as a Beatles’ parody. They even went so far as to hire several of the once-elusive Cortez beauties to scream for them from the foot of the stage during their mock performance. That little display of adulation, however bogus, was all it took to convince the future anarchists that this was the life for them.

So what if they didn't know how to play their instruments yet? Since when was musicianship a prerequisite of forming a rock ‘n’ roll band? They would learn. They were 16. They called themselves the Earwigs.

Michael Bruce, meanwhile, was making his own athletic mark as a member of Cortez’s football team. An ace axe maniac, who liked nothing better than to run rampant over the frets as well as the turf, Michael was frustrated with his role as rhythm guitarist for a rival band called Our Gang. What he was looking for was music that better suited his more aggressive personality. He found it when he joined the ‘Wigs, who were now calling themselves the Spiders.

With Michael replacing John Tatum, The Spiders began their evolution into a Stones/Yardbirds garage band, who were adept enough to actually record two singles—one of which, “Don't Blow Your Mind,” was a big enough hit in Phoenix to establish the band as a minor attraction in the Southwest.

Fresh from this success, with high school now nothing but a memory (albeit a lasting one that would come back to haunt AM radio for months in 1972), The Spiders changed their name once again, this time to The Nazz (inspired by the Jeff Beck/Yardbirds classic, “The Nazz Are Blue”), and began making treks to Hollywood to perform.

Like all up-and-coming bands, The Nazz suffered and starved for a long time. Their attempts to establish themselves on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles were offset by the reality of having to return back home to Phoenix from time to time in order to pay bills and ease severe ego deflation.

Despite their new surroundings and the somewhat encouraging fact that they were landing the occasional gig as the opening act for the likes of buddy Jim Morrison and The Doors, as well as The Yardbirds themselves (for whose audience they played nothing but Yardbirds covers), The Nazz had not yet even reached glorified bar-band status. Eventually, however, Hollywood became their new home.

By this time, due to creative differences, John Speer was replaced by Phoenix Camelback High alumnus Neal Smith. With Neal as their new drummer, the stage was now set for the unleashing of a phenomenally twisted and grandiosely incendiary rock ‘n’ roll assault on decency itself—a sharp, satiric bite from the dark side of life, the likes of which middle-class America had never seen before.

Still, there was one vital piece of the puzzle missing. When news from Philly arrived that a young whiz kid by the name of Todd Rundgren had the temerity to name his new band, the Nazz, necessitating still yet another name change, that last piece finally fell into place. For little did Arizona's Nazz know that this time their new name would soon become universally synonymous with outrage, delinquency, and immorality on an international scale.

There at least a million theories as to how Vincent Furnier transmogrified into the legendary entity doomed to be revered and reviled the world over as Alice Cooper. First and foremost of these is the story of what happened late one night while the group was visiting Dick Phillips (aka Dick Christian), their manager at the time. Phillips, a colorful character in his own right, had been urging the group to break out of their run-of-the-mill mold. That evening, just for laughs, his mother pulled out a Ouija board to do a reading. As soon as it began, however, the letter indicator began wildly skipping across the board, spelling out the name A-L-I-C-E C-O-O-P-E-R.

From that little incident, the boys concocted a tale that would only serve to enhance the Alice Cooper legend in the years to come:  that Vince was the reincarnation of a young woman of the very same name—a woman who had been burned alive at the stake hundreds of years ago for being a witch!

Sometimes he claims to have chosen the name because it had “a Baby-Jane/Lizzie-Borden-sweet-and-innocent-with-a-hatchet-behind-the-back kind of rhythm to it.” At other times, he maintains: “Alice Cooper is such an all-American name. I loved the idea that when we first started, people used to think that Alice Cooper was a blonde folk singer. The name started simply as a spit in the face of society. With a name like Alice Cooper, we could really make ‘em suffer.”

Regardless of which story you choose to believe, of far more importance is the fact that the word “suffer” doesn’t even begin to describe the damaging, senses-shattering assault that these guys inflicted on the mores of common decency. The Alice Cooper manifesto was an unrelenting, rampant commitment to the wholesale slaughter of every civilized tenet known to society. They created a designed-to-shock dynasty of decadence by pushing the limits of both rock ‘n’ roll and theatricality. Alice Cooper’s  relentless pursuit of a higher level of satirical sonic brutality took outrage to its inevitable extreme.

The group was performing an alarming Dadaist din that gained them the reputation of, in Alice’s words, “the most hated group in Los Angeles.” No less a connoisseur of chaos than Frank Zappa deemed the group’s auditory abrasiveness to be so sufficiently twisted that it deserved a spot on his new record label, Straight, alongside such esteemed labelmates as The GTO’s and Wild Man Fischer.

How corrosive was the Alice Cooper Group? Just ask any of the Los Angeles audience who were inside the Cheetah Club the night Alice Cooper took the stage as the first act to perform as part of a memorial concert in honor of haunted monologist Lenny Bruce.

All it took was a couple of songs before the throng, almost as one, stood up and headed for the door in disgust. When the feathers had settled from the group’s onstage pillow fight, there were only four people left. Alongside two of The GTO’s and Zappa was an aspiring entrepreneur who was more than impressed by what he saw. Shep Gordon realized that any group capable of evoking so negative a reaction that it could clear a room of 2000 people in the space of a few songs was not only a force to be reckoned with but also a group destined for truly great things.

Consequently, along with Joe Greenberg (his partner at the time), Shep introduced himself to the group and offered to become their manager. When he promised them that he wouldn’t give up hustling on their behalf until they were all millionaires, the fact that he knew absolutely nothing whatsoever about how to manage a rock group didn't matter. He knew enough.

Just as the Coopers bucked tradition by being unconventional musicians, so was Shep an equally unconventional manager. Together they forever altered the dynamics of the traditional manager/artist relationship by reinventing the rules of how to generate outrage and create spectacle. Simply put, they were blissfully ignorant of the customary constraints the music business had placed in their way.

You are the only censor. If you don't like what I say, you have a choice. You can turn me off. That was the message heard at the beginning of the final track on Easy Action, the group’s second recording for Straight. It was a sage piece of advice that the majority of record buyers across North America had already taken Alice Cooper up on. They stayed away from it—as well as their debut Straight release, Pretties For You—in droves.

Part of the reason was because both albums were too freakishly experimental and just plain weird to wade through. Some numbers, such as “Living,” “Reflected,” “Levity Ball,” and “Return Of The Spiders,” exhibited more than adequate proof of the group’s songwriting potential. Others, however, had far too many key and tempo changes, which were beyond the audience’s tolerance at the time.

Under the watchful eye of Zappa, the group, relying on its own ornate, twisted, and highly unconventional arrangements, self-produced their first album. And while it’s true that Neil Young producer David Briggs managed to marginally improve the sound of their second album, there nevertheless was something else that was being lost in the translation from studio to stereo: the purity of the group’s vision. Shep began looking for the right producer—someone who would be enthusiastic enough about the group to allow their ideas room to breathe, but tough enough to be able to nurture their strong points.

It was at this critical juncture in the group’s fledgling career that three key events occurred in rapid succession—events that would lead to the group becoming a worldwide phenomenon of legendary proportions. The first of these events was the decision to relocate the group to Alice’s own hometown of Detroit.

At this time, the Alice Cooper stage show was one of free-form anarchy that, in the beginning, was just too intense an experience for most concert-goers to endure. Inevitably, with each new performance, word began to spread across the Midwest that the Alice Cooper Show was not your average evening in an auditorium.

Nowhere, though, were they taken to heart more than in the Motor City. For years Michigan had spawned a formidable array of its own legendary local talent: most powerful bands such as The Stooges, The Amboy Dukes, MC5, and Grand Funk Railroad. What better place, then, for Alice and his gang of noise boys to settle down in than the real Cooperstown—Alice’s actual birthplace.

“The reason our music changed when we got to Detroit was

because the audiences there were literally raising fists at us

instead of making peace signs,” recalls Alice. “That’s the

difference right there. I’ve said it before, and it’s absolutely

true: we were the group that drove a stake through the heart

of the love generation.”

The second event concerned the group’s notorious Varsity Stadium appearance at the 1969 Toronto Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival when, during their set, a live chicken was thrown on the stage by an audience member. As he patiently explains each and every time the subject comes up—and as evidenced in the documentary footage featured in the Alice Cooper career retrospective video/DVD, Prime Cuts-The Alice Cooper Story—Alice, believing that chickens could fly, swooped up the hapless bird in mid-waddle and gracefully arced it into the air, fully expecting it to take flight. Alice was mistaken. The chicken landed somewhere within the first ten rows, whereupon it was promptly torn to pieces by rabid fans.

Alice’s protestations notwithstanding, once the press got hold of the story, they ran with it. The next morning you couldn’t pick up a newspaper without seeing the sordid story of how a sick, depraved male rock star with a woman’s name bit a chicken’s head off onstage and drank its blood.

As a result, the ASPCA began monitoring the group’s performances to safeguard against possible future fowl atrocities. The truth of the matter, however, is that the inadvertent chicken sacrifice was never repeated again. That is, until Ozzy Osbourne “borrowed” the idea years later when he allegedly bit the head off a live dove.

In any event, it was the kind of myth-making publicity that legends are made of. Thus began an unprecedented spate of press items that would continue unabated for several years. It may have been the first time, but it certainly wouldn't by any means be the last time in his career that Alice Cooper would become notorious for something that he didn’t actually do.

Although bands like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols were to pose a serious threat to the idle complacency of the rock ‘n’ roll hierarchy in the years to come, there was a big difference between the negative reaction garnered by those bands and the savage abuse that the Coopers received. By the time the punk movement arrived, the world was no stranger to the bizarre, having already lived through the shock theater of the glitter/glam era. The Alice Cooper Group, however, in kicking open that particular door, had to take the brunt of their peers’ narrow-mindedness.

The third and most vital event involved an appointment that Shep Gordon had made while the group was in town. Toronto’s Nimbus 9 was world-renowned as the recording studio where The Guess Who cranked out hit after hit. In a desperate attempt to get someone to help the group attain a more palatable sound that would appeal to a wider audience, Shep hoped to secure the services of Nimbus 9’s in-house producer, Jack Richardson.

Like it did everywhere else Shep went, the group’s reputation had preceded him: Richardson wanted nothing whatsoever to do with the Alice Cooper Group in any way, shape, or form. Shep, however, wouldn’t take no for an answer. In a last-ditch attempt to get Gordon off his back, Richardson asked his production assistant to go to New York and see the group perform live, knowing full well that the resultant negative review would finally get rid of the manager, once and for all. What Richardson hadn’t counted on, however, was that not only would his assistant be totally captivated by the group’s stage act, but he’d also want the assignment of producing them himself. His name was Bob Ezrin.

Their days at Cortez and Camelback may have been over, but the bell was just about to ring for the most important class the Alice Cooper Group would ever attend. For months the group went to summer school—first on a rented farm in Pontiac, Michigan, and then in a studio in Chicago. Under Ezrin's tutelage, they were re-educated in the Three R's:  rehearsing, writing, and recording. Ezrin played a key role in the group’s restructuring, taking the group apart and putting it back together again.

At the end of the semester they emerged with two things they’d never had before:  a stage show so tight you could bounce a dime off it and a master plan for world domination.

In 1970, Love It to Death was the first of more than ten Alice Cooper group and solo albums done with Ezrin who is credited with having helped to create their definitive sound. A hit single soon followed in 1971’s “I'm Eighteen”. The band’s trailblazing mix of shock and glam theatrics stood out amongst bearded, denim-clad hippy bands by sporting sequined costumes by the prominent rock fashion designer Cindy Dunaway (Pink Floyd, The Who) and stage shows that involved gothic torture modes imposed on the lead singer. In the summer of 1972, Alice Cooper served up School's Out to their hungry audience, their biggest success. The album reached number two on the charts and sold over a million copies. The title song went Top 10 in the US and a number one single in the UK.

Billion Dollar Babies, released in 1973, was the band’s most commercially successful album, reaching number one in both the US and Britain. That album’s first single, “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” became a Top Ten hit in Britain, and reached number 25 in the U.S. With a string of successful concept albums in the bag, the band toured the world; attempts to ban their shocking act by politicians and pressure groups only serving to fuel the myth of Alice Cooper and generate more audience interest.

In 1974, the band split - Cooper himself wanting to retain the theatrics that had brought them so much attention, the rest of the group wanting to concentrate on the music which had given them credibility.

His first solo album was Welcome to My Nightmare. He was backed by Lou Reed’s band, guitarist Dick Wagner, guitarist Steve Hunter, bassist Prakash John, keyboardist Joseph Chrowski, and drummer Penti Glan. The album was another top-ten hit for Cooper. After three further disappointing albums, in 1977 Cooper was hospitalized in a New York sanitarium for alcoholism. This may be responsible for a surprise return to form on the hard-rocking, semi-autobiographical album From The Inside. Around this time Cooper led celebrities in raising money to remodel the famous Hollywood Sign in California. Cooper himself chipped in over $27,000 for the project, doing it in memory of friend and comedian Groucho Marx.

His albums from the beginning of 1980s, Flush The Fashion, Special Forces, Zipper Catches Skin, and DaDa, were not commercially successful, especially in comparison to previous sales. They were regarded as very strange and bizarre at that time, and are now considered cult classics. Flush The Fashion has a spare, edgy musical sound that was so unexpected as to have been truly baffling to long-time fans. The songs are typically clever, however, and hold up very well. Special Forces was a bit darker and more cynical, but continued with the experimental sound. With only mildly positive commercial and critical response to these experiments, Cooper then released Constrictor (1986), a heavier album, which had more, but still very limited, success, followed by Raise Your Fist And Yell (1987) which had a rougher sound than its predecessor. Both Constrictor and Raise Your Fist and Yell were recorded with guitarist Kane Roberts and bassist Kip Winger, both of whom would leave the band by the end of 1987. Kane Roberts would go on as a solo artist, while Kip formed Winger. Roberts’ stage attire was unusual since he was basically a Rambo-clone –muscular body, scanty clothing and a guitar that resembled a machine gun.

In 1989, his career experienced a real revival with the Desmond Child-produced album, Trash, which pawned the hit single “Poison” and a worldwide arena tour.

In 1991, the album Hey Stoopid was released, and the song with same name became an anti-drug anthem. In 1992, he made a famous cameo in the movie Wayne's World, in which he discusses the history of Milwaukee in some depth. In 1994 he released The Last Temptation, which contains deeper theological thoughts.

A pause, lasting for six years, ended in 2000 with Brutal Planet, a musically strong, dark and loud, with subject matter thematically inspired by the brutality of the modern world, although set in a post-apocalyptic future. It was succeeded by Dragontown in 2001, which has been described by Cooper as being “the worst town on Brutal Planet.” These two albums are the first parts of a still unfinished trilogy. People frequently mistake “The Last Temptation of Alice” for the first installment.

In 2003, Cooper again adopted a leaner, cleaner sound for The Eyes Of Alice Cooper. Recognizing that many current bands were having great success with his former sounds and styles, Cooper worked with a somewhat younger group of road and studio musicians who were very familiar with his oevre. However, instead of rehashing the old sounds, they updated them, often with surprisingly effective results. The resulting Bare Bones tour adopted a less-orchestrated performance style that had fewer theatrical flourishes and a greater emphasis on musicality. The success of this tour helps support the growing recognition that the classic Cooper songs were exceptionally clever, tuneful, and unique.

Cooper received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003. It is located at the corner of Orange Drive and Hollywood Boulevard.

Cooper owns a rock and roll club and restaurant called Cooperstown in Phoenix and Cleveland. Cooper is also an avid golfer and also has a popular syndicated radio show called “Nights with Alice Cooper,” where classic rock and roll songs are showcased.

Living Legends Music Home | SiteMap | Contact Us Living Legends Music
 © 2018 Living Legends Music, Inc.
Designed by Kairosix, Inc.