“He ejaculated, and glam metal was born…” Twisted Sister frontman, Dee Snyder on Alice Cooper
I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off a month of Rialto Rockumentaries - brought to you by The Sound, every Thursday night in December – than with the super fun, super interesting film about the original god of shock rock, SUPER DUPER ALICE COOPER.
The twisted tale of a teenage Dr. Jekyll whose rock n’ roll Mr. Hyde almost kills him, SUPER DUPER ALICE COOPER is the entertaining tale of the musician who enthralled me when I was a kid and still elicits a giggle from me now, beginning with his early years. It is the story of the man born Vincent Furnier, a preacher's son, who struck terror into the hearts of parents and teachers when he eventually transformed into his alter ego, Alice Cooper, and feared he would never come back.
The teenage Furnier was first introduced to the blood-rushing roar of a rock n’ roll crowd when he and his mates decided to spoof the then-massively popular Beatles for a school talent show. Buoyed by the reaction (especially from the fairer sex), the Phoenix pastor’s son - along with fellow teens Dennis Dunaway (bass) and Neal Smith (drums) - decided to actually learn to play instruments properly and become an actual rock band. Calling themselves The Spiders, they became something of a regional smash whilst still at school, so after graduation choose to brave a big move to Los Angeles in 1967.
To say that the LA scene was tough would be putting it mildly. It looked like every other gang of disaffected teens in the US had made the same move, and The Spiders were literally tripping over umpteen other outfits hoping for the same big break. Rechristened Alice Cooper (Furnier’s name in a prior incarnation as a witch burnt at the stake, according to a Ouija board session), they did however cross paths with the infamous GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously), a Sunset Strip female “groupie group” produced by Frank Zappa. They loved the still fairly innocent Alice Cooper lineup, and soon encouraged them to distinguish themselves by diving head first into a range of wild stage theatrics and androgynous costumes. The boys even went on stage in secondhand Icecapades costumes for example, which certainly was a look.
After a disastrous debut album experience with Zappa the boys upped sticks and went on the road, eventually settling in Detroit, where they began to make a name for themselves as a solid live act and fitted right in. Success soon followed, and the high school buddies were soon one of the most popular acts in the world.
Furnier was always the star, and when they went global, Alice Cooper went from being the group name to that of Furnier’s alter ego when the band fell apart. His solo act got off to a roaring start with 1975’s “Welcome to My Nightmare,” which was a hugely successful concept album, stage show and TV special, and soon he found himself hanging out with the likes of Frank Sinatra and George Burns. He even became the subject of a surreal hologram created by Salvador Dali (one of his teenage idols), and had clearly morphed into an entertainer rather than the rock star of his earlier career.
After his predilection for alcohol careened out of control he seemed trapped in a downward spiral of fame and excess, eventually hitting rock bottom. “I had a moral compass — there were things I wouldn’t do,” Cooper/Furnier says in the film, “and maybe I created ‘Alice’ to do those things.” Like many a rock n’ roll tale this one ends in rehab, and a return to the stage in 1986 - the first time Furnier had played Alice straight. “What if I go out there and I'm just Vince?” he asks himself, but he needn’t have worried. When I saw Alice Cooper play a few years ago the shock horror was still there, and even some of the same theatrics he employed in his early days remained.
A blend of documentary archive footage, animation and rock opera, SUPER DUPER ALICE COOPER is a great portrayal of one of the first musicians to speak to “kids on the lunatic fringe”. The story is a familiar one, but the vintage footage is great, and if you like Alice Cooper, you'll love it.
SUPER DUPER ALICE COOPER premieres Thursday 7 December 8.30pm on Rialto Channel
#WIN We're excited to be joining forces with The Sound to present RIALTO ROCKUMENTARIES. 10 T-SHIRTS are up for grabs and you can choose from 3 rocking designs...just click to enter HERE