Vincent Furnier, a.k.a. Alice Cooper, was the son of a fundamentalist minister who moved with his family to Phoenix, Ariz., after a series of childhood illnesses. While in high school, Furnier teamed up with several members of his school’s cross-country team to form the rock band Alice Cooper. The band was allegedly named after a 17th century witch, and as the frontman, Furnier performed in the costume of an androgynous witch. To generate attention, the group began incorporating theatrical elements into its stage act, including a guillotine that was used for onstage “beheadings.”
After high school, the band attracted the interest of music producer and performer Frank Zappa. Zappa signed them to his label and the band released its first album in 1969. The group quickly gained notoriety after a concert in Toronto in which a chicken found its way on stage. Furnier, thinking chickens could fly, threw the animal out over the crowd, where it met an unfortunate end beneath the crowd’s feet. The “Chicken Incident” sparked controversy, headlines and attention, which Zappa encouraged the band to embrace.
The band continued to release albums, with its biggest commercial hit being the 1973 album “Billion Dollar Babies.” The single “School’s Out” was released the year before and was a Top 10 hit in the U.S. and England.
The band broke up in 1974 after disagreements over its direction. Furnier began recording on his own using the name Alice Cooper. The singer’s alcoholism began interfering with his performances, and he checked into a New York facility for treatment in 1977.
He has recorded off-and-on since that time, and his 18th solo studio album, “Along Came a Spider,” was released in 2008.
Besides his music career, Furnier has appeared in several movies, most notably “Wayne’s World,” where he played himself delivering an impromptu lecture on the history of Milwaukee. He is also an avid golfer, who credits golf with helping him overcome his alcohol dependency. He has hosted the annual Alice Cooper Celebrity AM Golf Tournament since 1997.
He has been married to wife Sheryl since 1976, and the couple has three children.