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Link to Alice Cooper Discography
Vincent Furnier was born in Detroit at a hospital that carried the nickname "The Butcher Shop", but, after a stream of illnesses, moved to Phoenix, Arizona in his youth. His grandfather, Thurman Furnier, was an ordained Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite). Cooper's father, Ether Furnier, was an ordained Elder. Cooper had some distant French Huguenot ancestry; the remainder of his ancestry was English.
Cooper, influenced by British Bands such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and in particular The Yardbirds, formed a number of rock bands in the 1960s, including the Earwigs, The Spiders, and The Nazz. Upon learning that Todd Rundgren also had a band called The Nazz, Furnier changed the band's name to Alice Cooper (the name Alice Cooper is said to have been agreed upon after one of Furnier's Ouija sessions, and learning that he was a reincarnation of a 17th century "witch" of the same name, according to band legend, although Cooper in interviews has said the name actually came out of thin air conjuring an image of "a cute little girl with an axe behind her back".
The classic Alice Cooper group line up consisted of guitarists Michael Bruce and Glen Buxton, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith. After moving to California in 1968, the band enlisted Shep Gordon as their manager. They recorded their first album Pretties For You on Frank Zappa's label, Straight Records. Frank told them to show up for the recording at 8:00 and the band mistakenly assumed he meant 8:00 AM, they showed up reeling drunk which is quite apparent when listening to this recording. The second album Easy Action was recorded on Frank Zappa's label, Straight Records. This album featured the hit "Refridgerator Heaven". The two competent but outlandish albums, received a frosty public and critical reception. Warner Brothers then purchased Straight Records from Frank Zappa and Alice Cooper was more highly promoted with this major label.
Although the band incorporated theatrics in their stage act from the outset, a chance case of press misreporting an unfortunate, unrehearsed stage routine involving Cooper and a live chicken led to the band changing tack - capitalizing on tabloid sensationalism and creating a new sub-genre, shock rock. Cooper claims that the chicken incident was an accident. He says he thought, "Chickens have wings, so they must be able to fly" so when it was on the stage, he threw it out over the crowd, with the intention of having the chicken fly away. But chickens cannot fly particularly well, and the bird was instead ripped to shreds by the rowdy audience. Zappa phoned him shortly afterward to ask if the rumor that he had ripped the head off a live chicken and drunk its blood onstage was true. Cooper denied the rumor, whereupon Zappa told him, "Well, whatever you do, don't tell anyone you didn't do it." Cooper says he didn't know they couldn't fly because he said that he had never been on a farm in his life.
Cooper claims "We drove the stake through the heart of the "Peace and Love Generation". Other quotes from the DVD biography include "Alice Cooper is unkillable" and "Welcome To My Nightmare is just a record that you never get tired of and can put on when all else fails".
In 1970, after the band had recorded two records on Straight Records, the band, under the Warner Brothers label, teamed up with fledgling producer Bob Ezrin on their album entitled Love It to Death. This was the first of more than 10 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. His outspoken views on the Vietnam War stood out no less, as Cooper was always staunchly pro-war — in stark contrast to the vast majority of musicians at the time, who were rebelliously anti-war.
The follow up Killer included further singles in 'Under My Wheels' and 'Be My Lover' and also one of the most critically acclaimed Cooper songs in the epic 'Halo Of Flies', which was a Top 10 hit in Holland. In the summer of 1972, Alice Cooper released the appropriately-titled School's Out. The album reached number two on the charts and sold over a million copies. The title song went Top 10 in the US, was a number one single in the UK, and remains a staple on classic rock radio.
Billion Dollar Babies, released in 1973, was the band's most commercially successful album, reaching no. 1 in both the US and Britain. 'Elected' a 1972 top 10 UK hit included on the album (featuring one of the first creative promo films 3 years before Queen's promo video to 'Bohemian Rhapsody'), was followed by 2 more UK top 10 singles in 'Hello Hooray' and 'No More Mister Nice Guy' which was the last UK single from the album and also reached number 25 in the U.S. The title track, featuring guest vocals by Donovan, was also a US hit single. With a string of successful concept albums in the bag and several hit singles, 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. The 1973 US Tour broke box office records set by The Rolling Stones.
The 1974 tour raised rock theatrics to a new level. The stage show, which had a gothic horror theme, featured numerous special effects. The highlight of the show was Cooper's "death" onstage, either by beheading or by hanging. The guillotine, trick noose and other stage effects were designed for the band by stage magician James Randi. During some of the shows, Randi appeared onstage as the executioner. Cooper's stage antics influenced later bands like Kiss and Blue Oyster Cult.
A film 'Good To See You Again, Alice Cooper' (recently re-released on DVD) was released and saw the band as the biggest act in the world at that time. Muscle of Love the last album from the classic line up marked Alice Cooper's last UK top 20 single in the 1970s, with 'Teenage Lament 74'. Even a James Bond theme song was recorded for 'The Man with the Golden Gun', but a different song of the same name by LuLu, was chosen instead.
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 10 hit for Cooper and is regarded along with the stage show as ground breaking moments in rock history. In addition, the 1975 US TV special 'The Nightmare' was the first video album, and as with the album, featured horror movie film star Vincent Price, several years before he guested on Michael Jackson's Thriller (song). A concert film, Welcome to My Nightmare (film) was released in late 1975. Though it failed at the box office, it later became a midnight movie favorite and has become a cult classic.
It is during this time he founded The Hollywood Vampires.
In 1978 he appeared on The Muppet Show where he played himself.
Following two less acclaimed studio albums, Alice Cooper Goes to Hell and Lace and Whiskey, along with the 1977 live album The Alice Cooper Show (recorded in Las Vegas), it was clear that the musician was in need of specialized help with his alcoholism, and in 1977 Cooper was hospitalized in a New York sanitarium for alcoholism. At his alcoholic peak some fans rumored that he was up to two cases of Budweiser and a bottle of whiskey a day.
This may be responsible for a surprise return to form on the hard-rocking, semi-autobiographical album From The Inside, which Cooper co-wrote with Bernie Taupin. 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. However, even DaDa, the best of the alternative albums, had only mildly positive commercial and critical response. DaDa was again produced by Bob Ezrin, who used one of the first samplers (the famous Fairlight) instead of real drums. 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 & bassist Kip Winger, both of whom would leave the band by the end of 1988 (although Kane Roberts played guitar on 'Bed Of Nails' on the 1989 Trash, album). 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. Keep in mind that Heavy Metal music was very popular during this time of the late 1980's and some in the music industry said that Alice was being successfully "resurrected" for the Metal era of music.
In 1986 he sang the theme song "The Man Behind the Mask" for the movie Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Also in 1986, Megadeth was asked to open for Alice Cooper during current US Tours. After noticing the hardcore drug and alcohol abuse in the band, Cooper personally approached them to try and help them control their "demons", and stayed close to front man Dave Mustaine ever since. Mustaine considers him his God Father(VH1 Behind the Music 2001).
In 1987, he made a brief appearance as a vagrant in the horror movie Prince of Darkness directed by John Carpenter. His role had no lines, and consisted of menacing the protagonists, and impaling one of them with a bicycle frame.
He also appeared at WrestleMania III escorting wrestler Jake "The Snake" Roberts to the ring. After the match was over, Cooper got involved and threw Jake's snake Damien at The Honky Tonk Man's manager Jimmy Hart. Jake considered the involvement of Cooper to be an honor, as he idolized Cooper in his youth and has remained a fan of his.
In 1989, his career experienced a real revival with the Desmond Child produced album Trash, which spawned the hit single 'Poison', reaching # 2 in the UK and #7 in the US, and a worldwide arena tour.
It was during this time in the 1980s he became a born-again Christian and became sober.
In 1991, the album Hey Stoopid was released; it sold very well, and spawned several hit singles . He also appeared on the Guns N' Roses album Use Your Illusion I, singing backup on the track The Garden. He also made a brief appearance as the abusive father of Freddy Krueger in the 1991 Nightmare On Elm Street film Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.
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, a concept album dealing with issues of faith, temptation, alienation, and the frustrations of modern life. Concurrent with the release of The Last Temptation was a three part comic book series written by Neil Gaiman, fleshing out the album's story.
In 1996 Cooper sang the role of Herod on the London Cast soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar. In 1997, Cooper recorded the intro narration for the Insane Clown Posse album The Great Milenko.
A pause, lasting for six years, ended in 2000 with Brutal Planet. Brutal Planet is 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 trilogy that was apparently put on hold with the release of The Eyes of Alice Cooper (2003) People frequently mistake "The Last Temptation" for the first installment. Alice's latest album, Dirty Diamonds, seems to be in a similar vein as "The Eyes of...". Also in 2001, Cooper made a brief appearance in the movie 'Attic Expeditions' as the unstable Samuel Leventhal.
In 2001, Cooper was famously interviewed by Dom Joly on the British comedy sketch show Trigger Happy TV. Joly is interrupted by his cell phone mid-interview by, supposedly, his mother. At first Joly attempts to get rid of his pesky mother whilst continuing to prompt Cooper by shaking the microphone at him, at one point explaining that 'no no mum .... I'm interviewing Alice Cooper.....Alice Cooper... no no he's a bloke'. The interview is abruptly terminated when we learn that a relative of Joly's has suffered a car accident involving a tumble 'down a ravine'. At this point Cooper turns to camera and repeats 'down a ravine' whilst suppressing a giggle. Dom then wanders off in a dazed fashion, leaving Cooper alone on the sidewalk.
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 oeuvre. 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 help 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.
On January 26, 2004 Cooper's radio show, Nights with Alice Cooper, began airing in several U.S. cities. The program showcases Classic Rock, Alice's personal stories about his life as a Rock icon, obscure rock history facts, as well as interviews and special segments like the "OffBEAT News" with his counterpart, Mistress Kitty.
In 2005, Cooper released his 24th studio album Dirty Diamonds; his first release on New West Records (for America.) Dirty Diamonds was released on August 2, 2005 in the U.S. and July 4, 2005 in Europe. It is a continuation of the songwriting approach the band used on The Eyes of Alice Cooper. Dirty Diamonds is Cooper's highest charting album since 1994's, The Last Temptation coming in at #169 on The Billboard 200. The Dirty Diamonds tour launched in America in August 2005.
On May 14, 2006, Cooper was given the "key to the city" of Alice, North Dakota. Alice (population 56) is located approx. 50 miles from Fargo, where Cooper had a concert scheduled on May 15. He also made an interview with a personality of KKBX "The Box 101.9", the radio station that broadcasts his radio show in Fargo, along with "One Red Paperclip".
Cooper owns a rock and roll club and restaurant called Alice Cooper'stown in Phoenix and Cleveland. He is an avid golfer (handicap 5) and a member of Phoenix Country Club.
Many artists and rock bands claim to be fans of Cooper's, including KISS, Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Alice in Chains, U2, Guns N' Roses, Yngwie Malmsteen, Mötley Crüe, Melvins, Jello Biafra, Five Man Electrical Band, Tool, UFO, W.A.S.P., Michael Jackson, Cradle of Filth, Megadeth, Bruce Dickinson, Arjen Lucassen and Marilyn Manson, about whom Cooper quipped: "He has a woman's name and wears makeup. How original." In a 1978 interview with Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan said, "I think Alice Cooper is an overlooked songwriter."
Cooper also joked on another occasion about Marilyn Manson, saying, "A male singer, a woman's name, lots of theatrics. Boy, I wish I'd thought of that."
Dave Vanian, before becoming lead singer of The Damned, was a grave-digger, and would sing Alice Cooper songs at the top of his voice while he worked.
In the foreword to Alice Cooper's CD retrospective box set The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper, John Lydon of The Sex Pistols- a fan of Alice - pronounced Killer as the greatest rock album of all time.
Non musician fans included artist Salvador Dalí, who on attending a show in 1973 described it as surreal, and made a hologram called "First Cylindric Chromo-Hologram Portrait of Alice Cooper's Brain," a replica of which can be seen at the Dali museum in St. Petersburg, Fla. Cooper and band members Dennis Dunaway and Glen Buxton studied Dali as art students, while at Cortez High School in Phoenix, Arizona.
After kicking his alcoholism, Cooper became a noted golf enthusiast, participating in several pro-am competitions. He has appeared in commercials for Callaway Golf equipment. He reportedly has a 5 handicap and plays 6 days a week.
Since 1997, he has hosted an annual golf competition, the Alice Cooper Celebrity AM Golf Tournament. All proceeds from the event go to Cooper's charity, the Solid Rock Foundation.
Alice is a staunch Republican, and has expressed his support for George W. Bush in interviews, and has been known to attend Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks games with John McCain. Cooper, however, has also been known for his staunch attitude that rock and politics should never mix. His response to the Vote for Change tour was "To me, that's treason. I call it treason against rock 'n' roll because rock is the antithesis of politics. Rock should never be in bed with politics."
The quote, as cited by conservative website WorldNetDaily, "If you're listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you're a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock stars? Because we're morons. We sleep all day, we play music at night and very rarely do we sit around reading the Washington Journal." In a statement he later released he said "But I do think that the rebellious spirit of rock 'n' roll doesn't mix well with political fundraisers and electoral campaigning. And that's what I meant when I said it was treasonous to rock 'n' roll. Nothing more and nothing less. Any attempt to read more into it than that is misguided."
campaign to get the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to induct him was started by two German fans online at Myspace.com.This campaign was sparked by a column written on April 5, 2006 by CREEM writer and official Cooper biographer Jeffrey Morgan in Metro Times Detroit. A previous attempt was made in 2004 by fan Robert Floto using an online petition which logged more than 2,700 entries before being mailed to the RRHF in July of that year. This earlier attempt was unsuccessful.
On August 26 to 28 2006, Cooper took part in an annual celebrity golf version of the Ryder Cup called The All*Star Cup in South Wales, UK. Europe won the Cup for the 2nd year running. Cooper won his match on the first day, and lost his match on day two. The event was a big success, with large crowds attending, and the two main days of competition were shown live on UK television. The commentators made many references to Cooper being the best player and that he played six days a week back home in Arizona.
On August 30 2006, with the Dirty Diamonds album still fresh in memory, Cooper announced on his website that he will start working on his next album in January, and start its tour in 2007 afterwards. His 2006 tour matched him with the Rolling Stones in a number of 40,000 plus seat venues in Canada at the Halifax Commons(on Sept. 23rd 2006) and the US (Louisville, Phoenix).
Alice recently announced in an interview that his new album is to be titled "Along Came a Spider", but the release date has been delayed, with Alice announcing another world tour called the "Psycho-Drama Tour." He has also said that he and the band are to continue working on the new album while touring and it is due out sometime in 2007. No official date has been released.
In 2006 he appeared extremely briefly in an episode of the show Monk as himself.
During the writing of the book Alice Cooper, Golf Monster, Alice's longtime manager, Shep Gordon, revealed that he was the one behind the chicken incident, hoping for (and gaining) publicity for the band.
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