*Post written by James Wethington, senior library assistant at the University Archives and Special Collections.
Folks, we have another exciting musician for this week’s edition of Guess Who Performed in Evansville. His music was different and had a unique sound for some people’s taste. Here are the three clues on this musician. Can you guess who he is?
- His birth name is Vincent Damon Furnier and allegedly came up with his stage name after a session with a Ouija board.
- Outside of his music career, he has appeared in movies (i.e.: Prince of Darkness and Wayne’s World) and television (i.e.: That ‘70’s Show and Jesus Christ Superstar).
- His best-known song is “School’s Out”, “Welcome to My Nightmare”, and “Poison”.
The answer is Alice Cooper.
Vincent Damon Furnier was born on February 4, 1948 in Detroit, Michigan. When he was a teenager, his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Along with some of his classmates, they formed the Earwigs. They formed for a school talent show performing Beatles songs. The band would change their name to the Spiders and become a local hit. After they graduated high school, they moved to Los Angeles and Furnier created his stage name which became his persona, Alice Cooper. They released four albums from 1969 to 1972 before he achieved his first Top Ten hit, “School’s Out”. By 1973, Alice Cooper would pursue a solo career.
Before the release of his first solo album, “Welcome to My Nightmare”, Furnier legally changed his name to Alice Cooper. The next three albums were unsuccessful, and Cooper’s career took a turn for the worse. With the failure of his albums, Cooper’s addiction to alcohol and cocaine pushed him over the edge. He went to rehab, which was successful, gained sobriety and relaunched his music career. His album, “Trash”, marked Cooper’s return to the top of the charts; however, he would venture over into movies and television. He made cameo appearances in Wayne’s World (1992) and Dark Shadows (2012). In 2011, Cooper and his band, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cooper released his latest album, Paranormal, in 2017. He also appeared as Herod in NBC broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Unlike our previous musicians and bands, Cooper had a large crowd at his concert. The official count was 8,359 people attended at Roberts Stadium to see Cooper live. He performed on February 18, 1979. This wasn’t his first time performing in town. As popular as Cooper has, some people thought Cooper didn’t give a good concert for Evansville. Cooper’s performance was entitled, “From the Inside” (Swank, 1979). According to the concert reporter, the music was loud, didn’t have much heart, and was too trashy for their taste. The backdrop of his concert looked like an asylum and littered with alcohol bottles (a symbolism to Cooper’s public battle with alcoholism and recently released autobiography). Even his dancers were dressed up like whiskey bottles. He performed numerous songs from “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “Eighteen”, and “Welcome to My Nightmare” (Spaw, 1979).
For more information, the Greg Smith collection at the University Archives and Special Collections at the David L. Rice Library at the University of Southern Indiana has over 1,500 photographs of Evansville history available online. Take a moment to explore his photographs of athletic events, local businesses, and many more. Stay tuned for our next addition of Guess Who Performed in Evansville.
AP News. (2019, February 5). Five interesting facts about Alice Cooper. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from https://apnews.com/f3a17450a69b49f2b0b98a8567d51fc3
Biography.com Staff. (2018, March 30). Alice Cooper. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from https://www.biography.com/musician/alice-cooper
Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. (2020, March 19). Alice Cooper. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Alice-Cooper-American-rock-band
Swank, K. (1979, February 19). Alice returns. The Evansville Courier. https://bit.ly/3b75X7H
Spaw, R. (1979, February 19). Cooper’s newest offering a ‘nightmare’ of rock schlock. The Evansville Courier. https://bit.ly/3bcdbr5