Who Made Who: The Godfather of Shock Rock

A lot of people say that Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was the first shock rocker. After the success of his 1956 hit “I Put a Spell on You”, Hawkins began to perform a recurring stunt at many of his live shows; he would emerge from a coffin, sing into a skull-shaped microphone and set off smoke bombs. Another music artist who performed similar stunts was British singer-songwriter Screaming Lord Sutch as well as Arthur Brown. As the years went by, there was one person who redefined shock rock and took it to the next level. The Godfather of Shock Rock, simply known as Alice Cooper.

Alice Cooper: The Godfather of Shock Rock


With a career that started from the mid-1960s to this present day, American rock legend Alice Cooper introduced America to shock rock. His concerts featured guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, deadly snakes, baby dolls, and dueling swords. Cooper has always been known to put on a great concert, considered by many in shaping the sound and theatrical illusions of heavy metal. In the 1970s, Cooper’s unique blend of heavy metal complete with cynical and controversial lyrics, proved to be a powerful inspiration for many future artists who were soon to follow.


Kiss 1977
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You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best. The Hottest Band in the World  ” KISS ” an American hard rock band formed in 1973 from New York. The original members were  Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley. Well known for wearing more makeup than your mother. With stage outfits that changed every 2 to 3 albums, music fans worldwide were excited to see what the stage setup would be next. Kiss rose to fame in the mid 1970’s with their larger than life personas and live performances which featured fire breathing, blood-spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits, breaking guitars and pyrotechnics. Each band member sang their own songs and did their own solo acts during the concert which Kiss fans loved. Kiss succeeded by having great songs, rock n roll anthems and it was a concert that you did not want to miss.


Plasmatics were an American punk rock and heavy metal band formed by Rod Swenson and Wendy O. Williams in New York City, New York, in 1977. The band was a controversial group known for wild live shows that broke countless taboos. In addition to chain sawing guitars, blowing up speaker cabinets and sledgehammering television sets, Williams and the Plasmatics blew up automobiles live on stage. In 1984, Gene Simmons approached Wendy and Rod about producing the next Wendy O. Williams album. So as to avoid any wasted time in legal issues with Capitol Records, it was decided not to use the Plasmatics name on the record at all and was simply called WOW, the initials for Wendy O. Williams. Gene Simmons felt it would give him the freedom he wanted to add more new players to the album.

Gene also pulled in the talents of Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley, and then-current KISS drummer Eric Carr did one song as guests. The record was released on Passport (international and U.S. distribution by JEM).

Review copies were sent out to the various media outlets. Malcolm Dome, a reviewer for Kerrang magazine, had picked the WOW album as his album of the year. Williams received a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Female Rock Vocal’ in 1985.


Blackie_Lawless wasp
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Emerging from Los Angeles is a heavy metal band called W.A.S.P. featuring Blackie Lawless  and Randy Piper. The original lineup of W.A.S.P. was formed in 1982 by Lawless, Piper, Rik Fox, and Tony Richards. The band became notorious around the L.A. circuit for its raunchy and shocking live shows. Lawless was known to tie semi-naked models to a torture rack, and also hurl raw meat into the audience. The band’s debut single, entitled “Animal”, and the album cover was equally controversial. The first lineup didn’t last for long, as Rik Fox was let go. Shortly after the bass was filled by Lawless and guitarist Chris Holmes joined the band. The band’s abbreviated name ” W.A.S.P.” helped fuel the controversy surrounding the band in their early days. Their first album was release in 1984 which spawned the single of  ” -” which went on to be the most successful from their debut album and ranked at number 84 in VH1’s 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs of All Time. W.A.S.P. was a target of the PMRC ” Parent’s Music Resource Center” which was an organization that wanted warning labels on recorded music.

Moving forward from the 1980’s to this present day, shock rock has brought numerous music artist including Gwar, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and Slipknot…just to name a few and many more to entertain the music world.