Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Cooper, Alice

The man known as Alice Cooper was born Vincent Damon Furnier on February 4, 1948 in Detroit. His family moved to Phoenix after he suffered a series of illnesses while in high school. While in Phoenix, he started a band with some classmates. They called themselves The Spiders, with Furnier as their lead singer. They performed regularly around the Phoenix area and recorded their first single in 1965.

In 1968, Furnier and his band called Alice Cooper debuted in California. They chose the name because it was a severe contrast to the band’s image, which consisted of black clothes, villain-like characters, smeared makeup and theatrical gore. After an unsuccessful show in Venice Beach, they were approached by music manager Shep Gordon, who thought their image could be used more productively. He arranged an audition with Frank Zappa, which resulted in the band signing a three album deal with Straight Records.

Their first two albums were commercial failures. After a misunderstanding at a show which involved the accidental death of a chicken, the band decided to take the attention of the press as a positive thing and they did not deny their involvement in the death of the chicken, further developing their image. With this chicken incident and the band’s image and music, a new subgenre of rock was created, called Shock Rock.

Soon thereafter, Alice Cooper decided to come back to Detroit, where rock music was more widely accepted and received, because they felt their shock rock would be more appreciated than it was in California. In 1970, they released the third and final album in their contract with Straight Records titled Love It to Death. This album lead to their first successful single called “I’m Eighteen.” Months later, Warner Bros. Records purchased their contract from Straight Records and reissued it with more promotion. This album proved to be the band’s breakthrough album.

The band went on tour in 1971, which included mock fights, gothic torture, block, and a staged execution in an electric chair. The band and Alice Cooper’s subsequent tours would continue with this type of gory theatrics. The band released two more successful albums, Killer, and School’s Out. The single from School’s Out, with the same title, because an instant hit and a rock classic. In February of 1973 the band released their most commercially successful album, Billion Dollar Babies and in late 1973, the released their last album, called Muscle of Love which was not as successful. Around this time the band members began to have disagreements and decided to take a hiatus.

In 1973, Furnier legally changed his name to Alice Cooper in order to avoid legal problems over the ownership of the group name and he released his first solo album under this name, titled Welcome to My Nightmare. This solo album and its success solidified the band’s break up and Alice Cooper would continue on as a solo artist from there on. While on tour for this album, Cooper was having serious alcohol issues that began to affect his performances. Despite these troubles he released two more albums, Alice Cooper Goes to Hell and Lace and Whiskey, before seeking treatment for alcoholism in 1977.

In 1978, a newly sober cooper released the semi-autobiographical album From the Inside, which was inspired by his stay at a sanitarium for his alcoholism treatment. In the first half of the 1980s he released four more albums, but none were as successful as his past releases. In 1983, he relapsed and was re-hospitalized for treatment. This time after treatment he returned to his home in Arizona instead of returning to the music industry. He spent this hiatus working on his marriage, being a full-time father, and playing golf, which is one of his favorite past times.

In 1986, he made his return to music with the album Constrictor, which included the theme song to one of the Friday the 13th movies. In 1988, he signed with Epic Records and released the Grammy-nominated album Trash, which helped Cooper regain his commercial success. In 1991, Cooper released his 19th studio album, called Hey Stoopid. By this time, Alice Cooper had become a cultural icon, doing guest vocals on other rock artist’s albums and making appearances in movies, including Wayne’s World.

Throughout the 1990s and the 2000s, Cooper continued to release albums that were commercially successful. He also began to host a radio show called Nights with Alice Cooper that showcases classic rock with his commentary.

In the 2000s, Cooper was recognized for all of his prior work. In 2003 he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2006 he won the living legend award at the 2006 Classic Rock & Roll of Honor and in 2007 he received a Rock Immortal award at the Scream Awards. In 2011, the original band Alice Cooper received one of the highest awards in rock and roll by being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Alice Cooper continues to make music to this day and can still be seen performing on tours. He is a cultural icon for the city of Detroit, for the music industry, and for the world of rock and roll.

 


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