Stuff - Unknown circa 2001/2

(Unknown Date)

Originally Published: Unknown Date

Greatest American Hero No. 25

Alice Cooper

Author: Jacob Kalish

The godfather of shock rock is now just a PTA dad. Well, a blood-chugging snake-tongued PTA dad, at any rate.

Before Marilyn Manson ever slapped on a set of breasts, there was a man named Alice Cooper. Born Vincent Furnier on February 4, 1948, in Detroit, Alice was the son of a preacher. The family moved to Phoenix when Vin was 10, to ease the anguish of the little guy's asthma. As a teenager, he gave birth to a band that would come to be known as Alice Cooper. "There were a lot of heroes in rock 'n' roll, but no real villians," he says. "I was the one to fill that role." (Merv Griffin was busy.)

The band probably would have died a quick death if it weren't for the "chicken incident." While performing in Toronto in 1969, a live chicken was thrown onstage, and Vincent picked up the bird and tossed it to shreds. Rumors spread, and soon the story has Alice biting off Tweety's head and chugging the blood. This, apparantly, was a good thing.

The band now had hype - all it needed was a hit. That came in 1971 with "I'm Eighteen," the pubescent anthem from the chart-topping album Love It To Death. Follow-ups such as School's Out and Billion Dollar Babies were even bigger hits. As with all bands, success breeds discontent, and Vincent left to the group in 1974. A legal battle ensued over who would get to keep the good Cooper name, but Vince ended the war by legally changing his name to - you guessed it - Alice Cooper. The band was forced to go with Billion Dollar Babies. Remember them? They don't either.

Life in the '70s was pretty good to Alice. The chicken incident taught him a lot about showmanship. But his performance was more Bellevue than Broadway, featuring songs about sex with blow-up dolls. Alice sucked face with a boa constrictor, donned a straitjacket and was tortured by a sexy nurse. Every show climaxed with Alice's "execution" - either by hanging, electric chair of his favorite, the guillotine.

He also raised the stakes by slamming a bottle of whiskey a day, and he once accidentally lanced his leg with a, um, lance. Another time, while performing "Welcome To My Nightmare," he fell off the stage. Coop wound up with a concussion and a standing ovation. It wasn't the only way he hurt his brain: "When you throw up blood onstage, great! But when you throw up blood in the morning because of all the whiskey you drank, you need help." And a good detergent.

Soon, however, Alice's shock value began to wane, KISS stole his act, and punk came along and made everything else seem tame. So he did what every rocker does under such circumstances: He drank like a middle-aged divorcee. How he remembers the '80s: "The scarist album we ever did was Dada [1983], because I can't remember doing it." In 1984, he starred in Monster Dog, a movie so bad that even USA Today didn't like it.

He finally cleaned up in '86, tapping into the usual ex-rocker resources: glf, family and God. Alice is still touring, but as far as his lifestyle is concerned, he traded in his electric chair for a recliner.

In his twisted version of Take Your Daughter to Work Day, Alice's 19-year-old daughter, Calico, plays a dominatrix in her doddering daddy's stage show. In the end, isn't it always about the family?