-In no particular order
Arthur Brown – Burning Helmet
It’s safe to say that, for once, Alice Cooper borrowed some ideas from someone else; case in point, Arthur Brown. Arthur Bown is best known for the single “Fire”, which is vindictive of the Arthur Brown experience. Brown used fire a lot to cause a stir in the audience, while the whole band looked like some kind of medieval satanic cult. Brown himself was one of the first to use face paint/makeup to create a stage character along with music. His incendiary performance on stage was so controversial that he was even kicked off a tour with Jimi Hendrix. On tour, Brown descended onstage in a suit and helmet welded from sheet metal that was doused in lighter fluid and set on fire. The band was never very successful due to an unstable line-up and thus failed to gain the notoriety it deserved in the rock world.
Motley Crue (Early Years 81-85)- Nikki lights her legs on fire
What most people don’t know when it comes to Motley Crue is the fact that they practically started out as a shock rock band. As well as being the kings of ’80s rock and metal, Motley Crue started out with elaborate stage antics inspired by Kiss and Alice. During live performances of the Too Fast For Love era, The Crue aimed to shock and entertain the audience with fire, blood, crazy hair, ‘scary’ makeup, and outlandish outfits.
Nikki Sixx adopted the (Blackie Lawless) technique of setting her leather pants and boots on fire during live performances which can be seen in the “Live wire” video. Also in “Live Wire”, Mr Mars uses the Kiss-inspired technique of blood dripping from his mouth. Crazy thigh high boots, leather and studs, pale face makeup and larger than life hair were used to initially shock audiences with such an extreme and wild image. Motley also experimented with the satanic symbols controversy, not to mention that he brought violent and sexual lyrics and imagery to the fore. Perhaps Motley Crue isn’t usually paired with other shock rock bands because the outrageous androgyny in 81-84 became the norm for the rest of the 80s with the advent of other Hair Metal bands. Also, Crue toned down their image in 87. There was always a fine line between Shock Rock and Glam.
WASP – Torture Rack
WASP, like Motley Crue, grew out of the Sunset Strip glam metal movement. Considering the fact that the members of WASP and Crue played in a band together at one point (Sister), it’s no surprise to see the similarities between these two bands in their early days. WASP is, of course, synonymous with the shock rock genre. They mixed the Alice Cooper horror show with aggressive yet catchy heavy metal melodies. Blackie is known for using raw meat in his performance and throwing it into the audience, as well as eating live worms on stage (although this was before WASP), using dangerous fire and blood to provoke a reaction from the audience.
WASP’s best-known ‘trick’ was the use of the torture rack on which they hung a naked woman and proceeded to mutilate her body (all spectacular, of course). Randy Piper borrows some ideas from Ace Frehley’s bag of tricks with his smoking guitar. Stage antics considered, WASP got much of its shock rock credit from the PMRC’s dirty fifteen with violent and sexual lyrics/images in songs like Animal (Fuck Like A Beast).
Other techniques include: chainsaw cod piece, pyrotechnics and explosive cod piece (fireworks)
Alice Cooper – Behead Yourself
Credited as the godfather of Shock Rock, Alice Cooper was every parent’s worst nightmare in the ’60s and ’70s. Alice Cooper is a complete play on Macbeth Rock and Roll. He coined pretty much every technique that has ever been used by any Shock Rock act to follow. Snakes, makeup, guillotines, ropes, blood, thigh-high boots, straitjackets, etc… Alice Cooper explored the fears of Americans by experimenting with images and lyrics. Alice’s is one of the first to make concept albums. His lyrics ranged from tales that inspired youthful rebellion to the clinically insane.
Alice Cooper’s wild stage shows inspired gossip and fear to spread throughout conservative America. One of the most high-profile incidents during a live performance was the fiasco of a live chicken being torn to pieces by a hostile Toronto mob. Newspapers and media amplified Alice Cooper’s creepy aura with reports of Alice beheading himself night after night. Alice Cooper is a combination of Bloody Tragedies, Houdini and Rock and Roll.
Here is another shock rock band that was again influenced by Kiss and Alice Cooper. The name of the band is inspired by a woman accused and acquitted of murder in the 19th century. Clearly borrowing from Alice Cooper, the lead singer is also named Lizzy Borden. The band’s music was pure metal influenced by bands like Maiden (especially vocally), Sabbath, Priest, Kiss and Alice Cooper. They are best known for their “Me Against The World” video, which showcases their outrageous glam androgyny used to shock audiences. In the early days, they borrowed many tricks from Alice Cooper lyrically and visually, including cutting up a woman on stage with an axe. In the ’80s, Lizzy Borden was an example of a heavier glam metal band that gained a large underground following.
Kiss – Gene Simmons Breathing Fire
Kiss is recognized as another pioneer in the Shock Rock genre. Alice Cooper was another influence on Kiss early on. Kiss started out as a Glam Rock band but after seeing Alice Cooper they decided they would have 4 Alice Coopers on stage and drastically changed their image. Of course, we’re all well aware that Gene Simmons spit fire and spit blood. Kiss became one of the main targets of religious and parent organizations, as well as influencing bands decades later. Their stage show is consistently cited as one of the greatest and Kiss is considered entertainment both musically and visually. Ace Frehley plays guitar with smoke coming off his pickups, while Gene Simmons flies to the highest peak of an arena (wired, of course).
His face paint and outfits are synonymous with the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal style. While their antics may seem like more pure entertainment than shock value, it’s important to consider the impact they had in the ’70s. The makeup never really came off until the ’80s, so Kiss surrounded itself with controversy and mysticism that garnered even more attention. from the band. The band caused a stir with their sexual lyrics and their logo was accused of being racist (the SS in the word Kiss resembled the Nazi SS symbol). Like most/all shock rock bands these days, Kiss’ antics are more of a form of entertainment and hardly surprise most audiences, but they continue to thrive on excellent music.
King Diamond is Gene Simmons’ demon who meets Alice Cooper. Originating from Denmark, the band rose to fame in the ’80s with their mix of heavy metal riffing and ghostly falsetto vocals. Diamond created a satanic persona onstage in the vein of earlier shock rock pioneers, but unlike the rest, he wasn’t using satanic just to shock. Diamond follows LaVeyan Satanism, which he considers more of a philosophy than a religion.