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C O U R S E 
History of Rock, 1970-Present
John Covach, University of Rochester
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Theatrical Rock: KISS, Bowie, and Alice Cooper
Notes taken on February 15, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
theatrical rock
sometimes referred to as glam rock
but glam rock only become popular in the UK
e.g. David Bowie
the U.S. really didn't have a glam movement as you did in the mid 1970s in the UK
in this genre, rock music which was conceived primarily for its theatrical production
relied in an important way on you seeing it to understand it
in the 1980s, this happened with music videos in that the music was dictated by how the video was produced
albums came with elaborate stage shows
involved performers taking on alternate guises
taking on various fictional characters
has its roots in
the Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Jim Morrison with the Doors and his idea of being the Lizard King
make up and costumes used on stage
you could include the band Genesis
these shows were designed to play not in small theaters but in arenas
forced the development in the rock concert industry that hadn't been there before
David Bowie
success in U.S. was later than others in theatrical rock
1969 Space Oddity
wasn't a hit in the U.S. until 1973 when it was rereleased
one of the most important British glamstar performers with androgynous images
challenges gender identity
Ziggy Stardust
a fairly androgynous character
album was 5 in UK but only 75 in US
the question of gender is very much put in the forefront
this is what was shocking and ambitious about what Bowie was doing
Madonna in the 80s reproduced much of what Bowie did in questioning gender roles
1973 Aladdin Sane
1974 Diamond Dogs
1975 Young Americans
hit "Fame"
you couldn't get everything from the record, you "had to see the show"
Alice Cooper
originally from Detroit
landed in Los Angeles
characterized by gruesome and Gothic stage shows
each show ended with Alice Cooper's death
the question was always, how do we kill Alice Cooper at the end of the show
head chopped off
electric chair
eventually they sort of ran out ways to kill him
no one had ever seen this kind of staging
a "crazy band of dangerous desperadoes"
1975: Welcome to My Nightmare
Vincent Price did narrations
first records produced by Frank Zappa, influenced by Jim Morrison
1971: Love It to Death
"I'm Eighteen"
1971: Killer
"Be My Lover"
1972: School's Out
Alice Cooper and David Bowie were raising the bar in the early 70s for what it meant to do a rock show
when it came to theatrical display, there was no group that took the idea and ran with it quite like KISS
it was one thing for Alice Cooper to scare you with a guillotine, hanging or electric chair or David Bowie to shock you with this androgyny and European stylishness, but KISS was going to amaze you with the pyrotechnics
they all adopted characters with very heavy makeup
a cross between Alice Cooper and the Monkees
four individual characters like the Beatles
so you could identify with each of them
bombastic stage shows with lights, flames, explosions, costumes, spitting blood, Gene Simmons with that big old tongue of his
KISS was a big, sort of scary cartoon with lots of rock and roll fun
the first major success comes from a live album
after three studio albums
1975 Alive!
"Rock and Roll All Nite"
you had to see them in concert
contrast that to a Led Zeppelin album, you didn't have to go to a show to experience it
or with Yes
KISS exploited the marketing
feature film
action figures
theatrical rock was defined by the stage progression
KISS was a blues based rock band
Alice Cooper was a quasi progressive rock
David Bowie was more of singer song writer, mainstream pop
was the precursor to music videos in 1980s