Alice Cooper meets Frank Zappa and Shock Rock is never the same
With a real band in place, they could finally start making some music. The band changed their name several times, first it was Earwigs, then Spiders, then 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 seated Ouija board, but Cooper himself says the name came out of nowhere, not from the ghosts on the other side. It is supposed to invoke the image of a sweet girl holding an ax behind her. It does! Wherever the name came from, it was an excellent running move for both Alice and the rest of the group!
It wasn’t long after the band and Alice exchange names that Frank Zappa found them. Zappa was looking for strange musical acts to add to his new record work, Straight Records. Alice Cooper was surely weird enough that Zappa signed them on a three-record deal. The first release, ‘Pretties For You’ was a near flop, only reaching number 193 for a week on the US charts. However, they continued to produce their own insane brand of rock ‘n roll.
Cooper made an immense impact on the press during a show at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival in 1969. Alice says, a chicken unexpectedly wandered on stage during her performance. He ripped off the chicken, assuming it could fly, and threw it into the crowd. The bird landed on the laps of disabled people in wheelchairs seated in the front. By all accounts, these fanatics tore the poor bird apart. The press, however, said that Cooper bit his head and drank the blood of the birds. Alice, still then, refuted the accusations, saying that it was all a freak accident. However, the rumors were not quelled and the matter became the talk of the music industry.
Cooper was nothing like the long-haired hippie bands who wore jeans of the time. These guys wear different sequined tight suits than they’ve ever seen before. His show was dark and menacing, including dramatic mock battles and gothic torture methods. At the end of the show, Alice would be tortured for her insane ways upon being executed. At first this was done with an electric chair, then it became a pendant and then the guillotine. Throughout the 70s, Alice gained more and more credit, both from fans and the music industry.
In the mid-1970s, Cooper decided to pursue a solo career. The decision made sense, but his heavy drunkenness was beginning to affect his performance. He checked into the New York Sanitarium for treatment. His time there was a creation for the 1978 album ‘From The Inside’. The early 1980s proved to be less productive for Alice. Although he released several albums, none reached the success of the 1970s.
His addiction to alcohol was also taking its toll and he was once again registered for treatment. For nearly a year, Cooper stayed out of the spotlight. Instead, he focused his attention on being a full-time father and working on his golf game. By the mid-80s, Cooper was clean, sober, and ready to start rocking again. His 1986 album ‘Constrictor’ spawned a tour appropriately called ‘The Nightmare Returns’. The last leg of the tour was filmed in Detroit in late October and is even considered Alice Cooper’s definitive acting movie to this day. The rock music press loved the album, the singles, and the stage shows. Cooper was back in all his glory, feeding fans a wild and complicated take on our world as only he can.
Cooper’s iconic stature increased throughout the 90s among fans and other bands. He has worked with several new generation musicians such as Guns N ‘Roses and Insane Clown Posse. Additionally, he made cameos in ‘Freddy’s Dead The Final Nightmare’ and ‘Wayne’s World’. As the new century progressed, Cooper didn’t stop at all. In 2000, Alice released ‘Brutal Planet’, which was a return to Alice’s rock metal style. 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 to a new generation of fans.
In 2003, the critically acclaimed album, ‘The Eyes Of Alice Cooper’ was released. The tour that followed a major shift from the Coopers theatricality of the past. The ‘Bare Bones’ tour featured a less orchestrated acting style, rather focused on music. The result is that the older Cooper songs were eventually realized for their uniqueness. Alice continued in this style for her 24th studio release in 2005, ‘Dirty Diamonds’.
In 2004, ‘Nights With Alice Cooper’, Alice’s radio show began airing. Cooper offers talks with great rock ‘n roll stars and the opportunity to hear strange tunes from famous groups. He also shares stories from his long career and brings his own unmatched taste for humor on the show.
Will this rocker chill? It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon. Despite turning 60 this year, Alice is to this day one of the strongest and most talented rockers out there!