Before there was
, Marilyn Manson or KISS, there was Alice Cooper, the original self-proclaimed “rock villain.” Born Vincent Furnier, Cooper and his mighty band of the same name – lead guitarist Glen Buxton, rhythm guitarist Michael Bruce, bass player Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith – pioneered the dark spectacle of heavy metal with their huge blues-rock sound and extravagant stage show. Drawing from horror movies and vaudeville, Cooper brought a new level of visual theatrics to arenas with guillotines, electric chairs, boa constrictors and fake blood; their 1973 tour broke box-office records previously held by
, and raised the bar for major rock tours. What made it stick were some of the catchiest, most reckless hard-rock songs of all time: “Eighteen,” “School's Out,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” Along with the New York Dolls and
, Alice Cooper was a starting point for the glam rock of the Seventies; it's impossible to imagine the hair metal of the Eighties without them; you can hear and see the band's influence in bands from the
to Guns n’ Roses. The original lineup split in the mid-Seventies, and singer Cooper would continue on with an evolving lineup; in the meantime, the pure shock value of America's first shock rockers has faded but their legacy is safe.