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(June 16, 2005)
Originally Published: June 16, 2005
Author: Stephen Downie
Alice Cooper has always had the power to shock. But nobody was more dumbfounded than the Baron of Blood himself when he opened a newspaper while in Australia and read he'd been arrested.
It was the 1977 Welcome To My Nightmare tour and the Coop had incurred the wrath of a promoter for cancelling a show.
Soon after reading of his "arrest", Cooper found the police at his hotel door. The promoter wanted $60,000 for the cancelled show.
"They figured I wasn't going to be able to come up with the money, but I had the money," Cooper recalls on the eve of his latest trip to Australia.
"The police took off the handcuffs and realised they couldn't arrest me."
For a while in the 1970s Cooper was the consummate outlaw.
He made the wildboy antics of the Rolling Stones look like the games of children in a sandbox. He was banned in several places, including Britain.
"I always thought it was great that I was banned because people were scared of me," he says. "And every time I was, the records went to No. 1."
Long before Marilyn Manson, Motley Crue and even Kiss, Cooper was the terror-inspiring, make-up-clad icon of glam rock.
Before Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a dove, Cooper was doing his bit to enrage animal-welfare agencies.
At one Cooper show, it was said, someone threw a live chicken on stage. Believing the chicken would fly, Cooper threw it into the air, only to see it torn to pieces by the crazed mob in the first few rows.
The media had a field day. Parents wanted this long-haired freak with a girl's name who chopped off his own head in shows banned.
But as Cooper, now 57, prepares to again unleash his act on the Australian public, even he admits his ability to outrage has diminished.
"Cutting my head off was a great trick. You would see that in the early '70s and be very shocked.
"But now you turn on the TV and there's a hostage getting his head cut off. The reality is much more shocking than my theatrics."
Cooper may have appeared dangerous, but he was, and still is, pure entertainment.
And he was never just about the blood and gore.
Hits such as School's Out, Department of Youth, Elected, No More Mister Nice Guy, Only Women Bleed, I'm Eighteen and later Poison proved Cooper had the songs to back up the stage antics.
"We would spend eight hours on the music and one hour on the theatrics. We had to go up against Led Zeppelin. If you were opening up for the Mothers of Invention (Frank Zappas's band), you'd better not be the schmuck band up there."
Cooper was born Vincent Furnier in Detroit on February 4, 1948.
There are many rumours as to how the Alice Cooper name came about, from the letters being spelled out on a ouija board to him being a reincarnation of a murdered young woman of the same name.
What's the truth?
"I didn't want a name like Iron Butterfly or Black Sabbath. I wanted it to be something your aunt might be called."
Alice Cooper, Palais Theatre, June 30. $125, Ticketmaster
Rocker Alice Cooper is a big fan of Australia and our women.
Shelley Craft, from The Great Outdoors, caught up with him in the US and discovered that offstage Cooper was nothing like the wild man he portrayed in concert.
"My big brothers, my big sisters were Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon," Cooper told Craft. "All of them dead from trying to be their image.
"They were trying to live that image off-stage, and one thing I learned from them is that one, not to drink, and two, that you can't be your image."
Apparently the hard rocker spends his off-time at home with his family and going to church.