Alice Cooper On Creating His ‘Nightmarish’ Stage Persona: ‘I Was Born To Be The Villain Of Rock’
The original shock rocker Alice Cooper joined The K-EARTH 101 Morning Show to talk about his incredible legacy in rock music, which is being told in a new documentary, Super Duper Alice Cooper, opening this week.
Known for his unnerving character on stage as much as his hits including “I’m Eighteen,” “School’s Out,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and more, Alice’s unique style has cemented his place in rock music for life. He told us the story behind creating his ‘nightmarish’ stage persona during the group’s early days in the ’60s.
“I was born to be the villain of rock, but you have to have those hit records,” he explained on the group’s beginnings. “We spent most of our time rehearsing the music and the look…I watched ‘Whatever Happened To Baby Jane’ and you remember Bette Davis was like seventy-five years old trying to look like an eight year old girl and I went ‘that’s the scariest makeup I’ve ever seen’ because it was all cracked and the red lipstick was all off, and it was nightmarish.”
From there, the character Alice Cooper was born, and the shocked reception from the public was exactly what he was aiming for. His devotion to his ‘nightmarish’ character was so intense on stage, that many people believed he and his music was satanic.
“Anything that was scary and sort of based in horror at that point was satanic,” he recalled. “My dad was a pastor, my grandfather was a pastor, I was anything but satanic.”
On growing up as a pastor’s son, Alice tells us that his father was actually one of the biggest supporters of his music, but did not condone the rocker lifestyle Alice was deep into.
“My dad was one of the funniest guys, he liked the music, he got the sense of humor. The only thing he said he can’t buy into is the lifestyle…sleeping with a different girl every night and drinking and the partying is going on forever,” he said. “He said ‘look, the music, the show is unbelievable, but I can’t really encourage the lifestyle.’ “
Alice is considered the ‘Godfather of shock rock’ who created a whole other character and world on stage. His original style has influenced dozens of other acts to come along from KISS to Rob Zombie, who he says are “all like my disobedient children.” The conception of his character was simple, Alice just found what rock music was missing at the time.
“To me, it was like there were so many rock bands out there – what isn’t there? I said ‘there are no theatrics, there is no villain, why don’t we fill that gap, because it’s going to be the most fun to do,” he said.
Now his influential career spanning five decades unfolds on screen in his new rock doc, Super Duper Alice Cooper. The film is described as “the twisted tale of a teenage Dr Jekyll whose rock n roll Mr Hyde almost kills him. It is the story of Vincent Furnier, preacher’s son, who struck fear into the hearts of parents as Alice Cooper, the ultimate rock star of the bizarre.”
The film is also the first ever ‘doc opera,’ which is described as “a dizzying blend of documentary archive footage, animation and rock opera that will cement forever the legend of Alice Cooper.”
The film includes a long list of cameos from friends of Alice including John Lennon, Andy Warhol, Diana Ross, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Carson, Salvador Dali, Groucho Marx and more.
“There were a lot of people in my life that ended up in the documentary, and it was fun because we always aimed at people we liked,” he said.
He expanded on his close friendship with Groucho Marx, telling us that the two lived nearby and since Groucho was an insomniac, he would invite Alice over to watch movies late at night.
“He would call me up at two in the morning and say ‘Alice, can’t sleep, come on over’ and I’d go over there and…he was laying in bed and he would have his beret on and his cigar and the TV and he would have a chair next to the bed with a six-pack of Budweiser…and we’d watch old movies all night.”
Super Duper Alice Cooper opens up in limited release on Wednesday, April 30th. Visit www.superduperalicecooper.com for showtimes and more on the movie.
Listen to our full conversation with the man himself, Alice Cooper, in the clip below.
Watch the trailer for Super Duper Alice Cooper below: