With a real band in place, they could at last start to make some music. The band switched their name a few times, first they were the Earwigs, then the Spiders, then the Nazz. Finally in 1968, they chose the public name ‘The Alice Cooper Band’. Three years later, Vincent legally exchanged his name for Alice Cooper. Some say the name comes from a Ouija board sitting, but Cooper himself says the name popped out of thin air, not from spooks on the other side. It is supposed to invoke the image of a sweet little girl holding a hatchet behind her. It does! Wheresoever the name came from, it was a superb career move both for Alice and the rest of the group!
It wasn’t long after the band and Alice’s name swap that they were found by Frank Zappa. Zappa was seeking bizarre music acts to add to his new record effort, Straight Records. Alice Cooper was surely bizarre enough and Zappa took them on for a three record deal. The first release, ‘Pretties For You’ was all but a washout, only hitting #193 for a week on the U.S. Charts. However, they went on to produce their own demented brand of rock ‘n roll.
Cooper made a immense impact on the press during an show at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival performance in 1969. Says Alice, a chicken roamed unexpectedly on to the stage during his performance. He plucked the chicken up, assuming it could fly, and tossed it into the crowd. The fowl landed in the laps of disabled people in wheelchairs sitting in the front. By all accounts, these fans plucked the poor bird to pieces. The press, however, said that Cooper bit the head right off and drank the birds blood. Alice, still then, refuted the allegations, saying it was all a strange accident. The rumors weren’t squelched though, and the affair turned into the talk of the music industry.
Cooper was not anything like the denim wearing, long haired hippy bands of the time. These guys put on tight sequined costumes different than anything seen earlier. Their show was dark and threatening, including dramatic mock battles and Gothic torture methods. At the end of the show, Alice would be tortured for his demented ways by being executed. In the beginning, this was done via electric chair, later on it developed into hanging, and then the guillotine. Throughout the 70’s, Alice earned more and more credit, both from fans and the music industry.
During the mid 70’s, Cooper had made up his mind to follow a solo career. The decision made good sense, but his heavy boozing was beginning to affect his performance. He checked himself into the New York Sanitarium for treatment. His time there was the brainchild for the 1978 album ‘From The Inside’. The early 1980’s proved to be less than productive for Alice. Although he released several albums, none reached the success of the 1970’s.
His alcohol addiction was also taking its toll and he was once again checked in for treatment. For nearly a year, Cooper kept himself away from the spotlight. He concentrated his attentions rather on being a full-time father and working on his golf game. By the mid 80’s Cooper was clean, sober, and ready to start rocking again. His 1986 album, ‘Constrictor’, spawned a tour appropriately named ‘The Nightmare Returns’. The last leg of the tour was shot on film in Detroit at the close of October and it is even, to this day, thought of as the definitive Alice Cooper performance film. The rock music press just loved the album, the singles and the stage shows. Cooper was back in all his glory, feeding fans a wild, convoluted view of our world like only he can.
Cooper’s iconic stature increased throughout the 90’s among fans and other bands. He has worked with several newer generation musicians such as Guns N’ Roses and Insane Clown Posse. Plus, he made cameo appearances on ‘Freddy’s Dead The Final Nightmare’ and ‘Wayne’s World’. As the new century rolled around, Cooper did not slow down at all. In 2000, Alice released ‘Brutal Planet’, which was a return to Alice’s style of rock metal. 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 up to a whole new generation of fans.
In 2003, the critically acclaimed album, ‘The Eyes Of Alice Cooper’, was released. The tour that followed was a huge change from Coopers theatrics of the past. The ‘Bare Bones’ tour featured a less orchestrated performance style, rather focusing on the music. The result is that Cooper’s older songs were finally realized for their uniqueness. Alice bore on with this style for his 24th studio release in ’05, ‘Dirty Diamonds’.
In 2004, ‘Nights With Alice Cooper’, Alice’s radio show began to air. Cooper offers up talks with large rock ‘n roll stars and a opportunity to hear strange tunes from famous groups. He also shares tales from his long career and offers up his own unequaled taste of humor in the show.
Will this rocker relax? It does not look like it will happen soon. In spite of turning 60 years old this year, Alice is to this day one of the strongest, most talented rockers out there!