Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is a YouTube Mix of music by Alice Cooper.

Alice Cooper influenced the formation of Heavy Metal along the way. Cooper was also one of the early rock musicians to program theatrics into his performances. In all of this spectacle and expression, however, Cooper maintained artistic control over what he was doing. The exaggerated, over-staged and extroverted performances were done with precise timing and were derived from hit spiritual practices.

Alice Cooper is notorious for his spectacles in performance as much as the music he performed. Cooper's career has spanned four decades with music ranging from garage rock,to glam rock and hard rock. His work also extended to pop rock, disco, experimental rock, and industrial rock. And all of it was built on a raw foundation of garage rock.

Cooper was born in Detroit to a religious family, with the birth name Vincent Funier. In high school, he performed in talent shows with his friends on the cross-country team as a mime group called the Earwigs, who dressed as the Beatles and mimed to the Beatles recordings. It turned out that they liked this kind of performance and decided to learn to play the music and start a band. Funier sang and learned harmonica and he was joined by Glen Buxton on guitar, Dennis Dunaway on Bass and Jim Spears on drums. They modeled their performances after the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Kinks, Pink Floyd, and mostly the Yardbirds, who were the forerunners of Led Zeppelin. When Furnier graduated from high school in 1966, The band renamed themselves "The Spiders." Michael Bruce joined the group and they produced a hit song, ”Why Don't You Love Me.”

Where the name Alice Cooper comes from is not easy to determine. The press reported that the name came from an Ouija session, in which Furnier found himself to be a reincarnation of a 17th century witch named Alice Cooper. Later Cooper stated that the name came from a conjured image of a girl with a hatchet behind her back. Neither of these accounts is certain, but both of them explain Cooper’s controversial and androgynous performance costumes and makeup. Other inspirations for Cooper's on-stage theatrics derived from a class project for which they built a guillotine for water melons. Cooper, Buxton and Dunaway also took ideas from their art classes and the works of surreal artists like Salvador Dali.

In 1968 the group moved to Los Angeles to launch their full-time careers, and landed their first recording contract with Straight Records, which was unsuccessful. In 1969, while on tour in Toronto, the press termed their music as "Shock Rock." This term is thought to have come from a performance during which a chicken found its way on stage. Not sure what to do Cooper scooped up the bird with both hands and tossed it in the air, thinking it would fly away. He did not know that chickens cannot fly very well, and sadly, the bird dropped into the overly excited crowd, where it was torn it to shreds. Conflicting reports stated that Cooper tore the head off the chicken and drank the blood, as if part of a religious ritual. Cooper's manager, Frank Zappa, advised Cooper to use this casual reporting as good publicity and not to deny the incident. These conditions make it difficult to verify which reports might be truth or myth.

Cooper was moderately successful until Warner Brothers bought out Straight Records, which gave the band much more visibility. But even so, the band's theatrics and notorious reputation did not go over well with California audiences and Cooper relocated back to Detroit, where the band was enthusiastically received. Love it to Death and Killer were successful albums but the group became more infamous for its performance antics, which became more violent. Gothic torture modes were programmed which exposed a sadistic side of Cooper's dramatic character. He appeared on stage with a boa constrictor around his neck, and other stunts dramatized death by hanging.

After uneven ratings across Europe, Great Britain and the United States, Alice Cooper finally made the hit song, "Schools Out," which has remained part of classic rock, since its introduction in 1971. The band continued to play and Cooper Expanded his celebrity to include roles outside of music through the 1980s and 1990s. In 1996, Cooper sang the role of King Herod in the London cast recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. He also made many celebrity appearances outside of rock music, including the All Star Cup Golf Tournament in New South Wales, in 2005. Since then, Alice Cooper has hosted Pro AM golf tournaments, like the Rock & Roll Classic, most recently in 2017.

A current discography of music by Alice Cooper appears on AllMusic

Page author: C.F.