February 4th is Vincent Furnier’s birthday, better known to the world as Alice Cooper. Furnier/Cooper had an early history with The Doors he hung out with the group and Jim Morrison, and nowadays plays golf with Robby Krieger (see related articles below). In honor of Furnier’s birthday here’s a Doors Examiner article on the birth of Alice Cooper.
I’ll be the first to admit this falls into the realm of supposition. It can’t be proved and it can’t be disproved (which is the beauty of it). But I think I can make a case for Jim Morrison telling fledgling rocker Vincent Furnier the story of Alice Cooper.
Furnier is from Phoenix, Arizona, where he had been a member of high school and garage bands. His first band was the Earwigs, which was an offbeat homage to The Beatles. The group dressed like The Beatles and because they didn’t know how to play their instruments mimed to the songs. After making the leap and learning how to actually play their instruments the group renamed themselves The Spiders and frequently played with a spider’s web as a backdrop behind them. It seems as if Furnier and the band always had a bent towards the dark side. They recorded a song that became a local hit, moved to Los Angeles, and changed their name to The Nazz.
Upon arrival in L.A. they fell in with some well established bands. Frank Zappa wanted to produce The Nazz, and they met The Doors. They also discovered that Todd Rundgren already had a band named The Nazz, so Furnier’s group needed a new name. There are a lot of suggestions as to how the band came up with the name Alice Cooper. Cooper (Furnier adopted the name as his own in the 70’s) himself has offered several versions of how the name came about.
I’ve been reading Alice Cooper biographies to see where Furnier might have run across the name Alice Cooper, but none offers a good explanation. Some theories that have been offered over the years are that Furnier and the band got the name when they were messing around with a Ouija board, another is that Furnier is the reincarnation of a 17th century witch that was burned at the stake (this is the most common explanation), the name came from a newspaper story of a murdered girl, or even that the band arbitrarily picked the name because it sounded like the name of a nice innocent girl who was holding an axe behind her back.
Listening to a radio interview with Alice a few years ago the DJ took questions from callers and one caller asked Alice if he knew Jim Morrison. The most Alice would say is “that I had a few beers with the man.” That got me to thinking. I could easily see Furnier and Morrison sitting in a bar talking, and Furnier mentioned his need for a new band name and Morrison mentions Alice Cooper. It is known, that in his high school years Jim Morrison haunted the Library of Congress and read up on the arcane subjects of the occult and demonology. So it is completely possible that Jim Morrison would have known of a witch burned at the stake named, Alice Cooper.
This article appears in The Doors Examined.