Las Vegas loves spectacles and what is better than shock rock. The extraordinary and completely bizarre Alice Cooper is coming to the Palms Casino Resort on Nov. 26 to give you a big dose of heavy metal. It is like being entertained by P.T. Barnum’s evil twin on a Broadway stage.
This former preacher’s kid, surprisingly enough, started out in the music biz after gathering together some high school friends to appear at a talent audition for a “lettermen’s” talent show.
- Not to be confused with David Letterman, “lettermen” was a term used for fraternity members — frat boys, in other words.
They won in spite of not being able to play any instruments. Back then, Cooper was going by his real name, Vincent Damon Furnier. The band’s name was the Earwigs, but they quickly changed their name to The Spiders and released their first recording, “Why Don’t You Love Me,” while still in high school.
They renamed themselves again as The Nazz but, after starting to perform in Los Angeles, discovered another group was already using the name, so the name, Alice Cooper, was born as a joke, sounding wholesome in contrast to the group’s image.
The band was eventually discovered by Frank Zappa, who was the leader of the Mothers of Invention at the time. Zappa saw them empty out a famed Sunset Strip nightclub in less than ten minutes and said, “Anybody that can clear a room that quick, I’ve got to sign.”
Alice Cooper, the band, recorded seven albums: Pretties For You, Easy Action, Love It To Death, Killer, School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies and Muscle of Love. The song “Eighteen” put Alice Cooper on the map. The albums School’s Out and Billion Dollar Babies made the band, and especially the frontman, Vince Fournier, superstars.
Eventually, Furnier adopted the name “Alice Cooper” as his own, and went out on his solo career.
Every Alice Cooper fan knows about the bizarre and sometimes dangerous props Alice uses on stage, from guillotines to live snakes and lots of fake blood. It is reminiscent of ringmaster P.T. Barnum on All Hallows Eve, and there is no danger of snoozing off during a concert by the ringmaster of evil.
Cooper’s career has been loaded with close calls and rumors that might make a lesser man scrub off the makeup and turn to performing lounge acts. To start with, the rumor that Cooper bit the head off a chicken in Toronto and drank its blood is highly exaggerated, but the publicity helped make the band famous. The truth is that a chicken wandered on stage and Cooper, thinking chickens can fly, tossed it toward the audience where it fell and died.
Alice Cooper faked his own death on stage for years, supposedly as a sacrifice to the music, but he almost ended up hanging himself in 1988 when the stunt went wrong and he slipped from the noose, collapsing on the stage. He also came too close to buying the big one using the guillotine when the blade came crashing down uncomfortably close to his neck. These mock executions varied in style but were a regular part of the act, hence, the guillotine, electric chair and other macabre toys.
The British Parliament found him so offensive, they tried to have him banned from appearing. Show up he did and may have paid them back by accident when his truck was stuck in traffic on Piccadilly Square during rush hour, complete with giant photos of Alice Cooper on the sides of the truck dressed in nothing but his pet boa constrictor.
Alice Cooper’s first solo album, “Welcome to my Nightmare” was not particularly well-received, despite featuring the beloved Vincent Price, horror show star extraordinaire. A video made with Twisted Sister after he signed on with MCA “Be Chrool To Your Scuel,” starring an unintelligible Bobcat Goldthwaite as a teacher in a school full of zombies, was considered so graphically gory it was banned from MTV.
Signing with Epic Records in 1988, Alice Cooper released the album “Trash” in ’89 and “Hey Stooped” in ’91. Alice performed with Guns & Roses on their album, “Use Your Illusion,” and made appearances in one of the Nightmare on Elm Street films in 1991, “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare,” appearing as Freddy Krueger’s father, and the band appeared on Wayne’s World, performing “Feed My Frankenstein.” In 2012, he starred in “Dark Shadows,” Tim Burton’s adaptation of the afternoon serial that also starred Johnny Depp as everybody’s favorite vampire, Barnabas Collins.
Cooper’s reputation follows him wherever he goes and sometimes the nightmares follow along too. On a plane going to England, he was seated next to an elderly woman who said she was going to sleep on the flight. After the plane landed, it was discovered that she was dead. Alice was questioned in the incident and, apparently, the woman’s neck was checked for punctures.
The most popular songs by Alice Cooper include “School’s Out,” “Eighteen,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Under My Wheels.” Popular albums include School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies, Welcome To My Nightmare and Love It To Death.
Alice Cooper is a master showman and long been considered the Godfather of Shock Rock and considered by Rolling Stone the most beloved entertainer of heavy metal. What Alice Cooper contributed to heavy metal — his wit, showmanship and imagination — heavily influenced the transformation of the genre into what it is today and was emulated by countless other bands. Cooper is smart, well-spoken and incredibly witty. He knows what the audience wants and he delivers.
Alice Cooper’s show at the Palms is scheduled for the Pearl Theater at 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 26. Tickets run between $50 and $100 + tax and fees.
Feature photo Alice Cooper YouTube.
I started to write because I developed laryngitis and needed to communicate or burst. It’s true. However, once I discovered the written word, I fell in love. I edited and wrote for my college newspaper and wrote articles for various journals after that. I am still working on the great American novel but I have yet to find the one among many starts I want to finish. Above all, I am fascinated with the world and the people in it. I have a dog who sincerely believes he should write instead of me but I steadfastly refuse to show him how to use the keyboard partly because of writer neurosis and partly because I hate his style.