Saturday, February 04, 2012

She asked me why the singer's name was Alice...

Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier; February 4, 1948), turns 64 today! He is hands-down the master of shock and theatrical rock, often credited with helping to shape the sound and look of heavy metal, and is regarded as being the artist who "first introduced horror imagery to rock 'n' roll, and whose stagecraft and showmanship have permanently transformed the genre".* 

In 2011, the original Alice Cooper band was (finally!) inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

If there is one artist that will get me to go out and see a show, it's Alice. Having seen Alice Cooper in concert many times (more than any other artist, in fact!), I can personally endorse his shows as being the most entertaining of all I've seen.

Rock out with this classic example of Alice Cooper featuring Vincent Price:

About that name...

It starts way back In 1964. At sixteen, Furnier gathered some fellow Cortez High School classmates and they put an act together for the local annual letterman's talent show in Phoenix, Arizona. They named themselves The Earwigs. Unable to play any instruments at the time, they dressed up like The Beatles and mimed to Beatles songs. They won the talent show and proceeded to learn how to play instruments, which they got from a local pawn shop.

Soon after, they renamed themselves The Spiders, with Furnier on vocals, Glen Buxton on lead guitar, John Tatum on rhythm guitar, Dennis Dunaway on bass guitar and John Speer on drums. In 1966, The Spiders graduated from high school, and Michael Bruce replaced John Tatum on rhythm guitar. The band scored a local #1 radio hit with "Don't Blow Your Mind", an original composition from their second single release.

By 1967, the band had begun to make regular road trips to Los Angeles, California to play shows. They renamed themselves again, this time to The Nazz, and released the single "Wonder Who's Lovin' Her Now", backed with the future Alice Cooper track "Lay Down And Die, Goodbye". At around this time drummer John Speer was replaced by Neal Smith. By the end of the year, the band had relocated to Los Angeles permanently.

In 1968, upon learning that Todd Rundgren also had a band called Nazz, the band was yet again in need of another stage name. Believing that the group needed a gimmick to succeed, and that other bands were not exploiting the showmanship potential of the stage, Furnier chose Alice Cooper as the band's name and adopted this stage name as his own.

But why? Theories abound, but in a recent interview with NPR, Cooper explains: "There was a giant web behind us. We wore all black. We didn't just show up and stand up on stage, we appeared on stage. That was the point where I said, 'Let's not be obvious. Let's not call ourselves the Tarantulas. Let's go the other way. Let's go for something that sounds like a little old lady'. I said, 'Alice Cooper,' and that just kind of stuck."

So there you have it, from the man himself.

Happy Birthday to Alice Cooper - A Huge Bit of Shock-Rock Groovy!

For more info on Alice:
Official Alice Cooper Website: Twitter @RealAliceCooper
Nights With Alice Cooper: Twitter @nightswithalice

Sources for this post: Wikipedia and NPR
*Guy Blackman (July 2, 2007). "Gig reviews: Alice Cooper". Sydney Morning Herald. R