|Cultural origins||1950s–1970s, United Kingdom and United States|
|Derivative forms||Horror punk|
|United Kingdom, United States|
Shock rock is the combination of rock music or heavy metal music with highly theatrical live performances emphasizing shock value. Performances may include violent or provocative behavior from the artists, the use of attention-grabbing imagery such as costumes, masks, or face paint, or special effects such as pyrotechnics or fake blood. Shock rock also often includes elements of horror.
A 2014 article in The Guardian states, "British rock always was more theatrical than its US counterpart. Often this involved destruction or macabre gimmickry: The Move smashing TV sets, Arthur Brown and his flaming helmet. "That's why most people thought we were British at first" said Alice Cooper.
Screamin' Jay Hawkins was arguably 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 artist who performed similar stunts was the British singer-songwriter Screaming Lord Sutch.
The 1960s brought several proto-shock rock artists. In the UK, The Who often destroyed their instruments, The Move did the same to television sets, and Arthur Brown wore vivid makeup and a flaming headpiece.In the US, Jimi Hendrix set his guitar alight at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, while Detroit musician Iggy Pop's violent, erratic onstage persona drew widespread recognition, as Pop would often throw his body about the stage, frequently injuring his band members.
On seeing Arthur Brown, Alice Cooper stated, "Can you imagine the young Alice Cooper watching that with all his make-up and hellish performance? It was like all my Halloweens came at once!."In the early 1970s, Cooper's unique blend of heavy metal and punk rock, complete with sardonic and inevitably controversial lyrics, proved a powerful inspiration for many future genre artists such as KISS of the mid 1970s; W.A.S.P., Gwar, and King Diamond of the 1980s; and Marilyn Manson of the 1990s.
The Plasmatics were an American punk rock band formed by Yale University art school graduate Rod Swenson with Wendy O. Williams. The band was a controversial group known for wild live shows. In addition to chainsawing guitars, blowing up speaker cabinets and sledgehammering television sets, Williams and the Plasmatics blew up automobiles live on stage. Williams was arrested in Milwaukee by the Milwaukee police before being charged with public indecency.Jim Farber of Sounds described the show: "Lead singer/ex-porn star/current weight lifter Wendy Orleans Williams (W.O.W. for short) spends most of the Plasmatics' show fondling her family size breasts, scratching her sweaty snatch and eating the drum kit, among other playful events".
From the late 1970s to his death in 1993, GG Allin was known less for his music than for his wildly transgressive antics, [ citation needed ]which included indecent exposure (stripping and performing naked was one of Allin's most common rituals), on-stage defecation, coprophagia, self-mutilation, and attacking audience members. He was also known to beat his own head in with a microphone onstage and promised for many years that he would commit suicide on stage as a sacrifice to rock and roll (though he died of an accidental heroin overdose at a party before seeing that threat coming true). Allin's lyrics were known for being politically incorrect.
In the 1980s in Richmond, Virginia, Gwar formed as a collaboration of artists and musicians. The band members make their own lavish monster costumes, which they claim are inspired by many of the creatures from H. P. Lovecraft's literary multiverse, the Cthulhu Mythos. Gwar frequently incorporates extravagant theatrics into their shows, such as mock jousts and pretending to murder each other. Gwar condemned Eldon Hoke, the vocalist of the Mentors, during their appearance on The Jerry Springer Show , because he advocated rape during his interview.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Marilyn Manson became perhaps the most notable and well known act in shock rock. He was once dubbed by former US Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn) as "perhaps the sickest group ever promoted by a mainstream record company." Manson's stage antics, such as burning the American flag and ripping pages out of the Bible, have been the focus of protests throughout his career.Manson argued that every artist has their means of presentation and that his visual and vocal styles are merely a way for him to control the angle that his audience and the general public view and interpret what he is trying to convey artistically.
Marilyn Manson is an American industrial metal band formed by namesake lead singer Marilyn Manson and guitarist Daisy Berkowitz in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1989. Originally named Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids, they gained a local cult following in South Florida in the early 1990s with their theatrical live performances. In 1993, they were the first act signed to Trent Reznor's Nothing Records label. Until 1996, the name of each member was created by combining the first name of a female sex symbol and the last name of a serial killer, for example Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson. Their lineup has changed between many of their album releases; the eponymous lead singer is the only remaining original member.
Glam rock is a style of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s performed by musicians who wore outrageous costumes, makeup, and hairstyles, particularly platform shoes and glitter. Glam artists drew on diverse sources across music and throwaway pop culture, ranging from bubblegum pop and 1950s rock and roll to cabaret, science fiction, and complex art rock. The flamboyant clothing and visual styles of performers were often camp or androgynous, and have been described as playing with nontraditional gender roles. Glitter rock was a more extreme version of glam.
Death rock is a rock music sub-genre incorporating horror elements and gothic theatrics. It emerged from punk rock on the West Coast of the United States in the early 1980s and overlaps with the gothic rock and horror punk genres. Notable death rock acts include Christian Death, Kommunity FK, 45 Grave, and Super Heroines.
Alice Cooper is an American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spans over 50 years. With his distinctive raspy voice and a stage show that features numerous props, including guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, reptiles, baby dolls, and dueling swords, Cooper is considered by music journalists and peers alike to be "The Godfather of Shock Rock". He has drawn equally from horror films, vaudeville, and garage rock to pioneer a macabre and theatrical brand of rock designed to shock people.
Arthur Wilton Brown is an English rock singer and songwriter best known for his flamboyant theatrical performances, eclectic work and his powerful, wide-ranging operatic voice.
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 chaotic, destructive live shows and controversial theatrics. These included chainsawing guitars, blowing up speaker cabinets, sledgehammering television sets, and blowing up automobiles live on stage. Williams was arrested in Milwaukee by the Milwaukee police before being charged with public indecency.
Billion Dollar Babies is the sixth studio album by American rock band Alice Cooper, released in 1973. The album became the best selling Alice Cooper record at the time of its release, hit number one on the album charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and went on to be certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The album has been retrospectively praised by such critics as Robert Christgau, Greg Prato of AllMusic, and Jason Thompson of PopMatters, but The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004) gave the album only two and a half stars.
Brian Hugh Warner, known professionally as Marilyn Manson, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, visual artist, music video director, and former music journalist. He is known for his controversial stage personality and image as the lead singer of the band of the same name, which he co-founded with guitarist Daisy Berkowitz in 1989 and of which he remains the only constant member. Like the other founding members of the band, his stage name was formed by combining and juxtaposing the names of two opposing American cultural icons: actress Marilyn Monroe and criminal Charles Manson.
Transgressive art is art that aims to transgress; i.e. to outrage or violate basic morals and sensibilities. The term transgressive was first used in this sense by American filmmaker Nick Zedd and his Cinema of Transgression in 1985. Zedd used it to describe his legacy with underground film-makers like Paul Morrissey, John Waters, and Kenneth Anger, and the relationship they shared with Zedd and his New York City peers in the early 1980s.
Corpse paint or corpsepaint is a style of black and white makeup used by black metal bands for concerts and band photos. The makeup is used to make the musicians appear inhuman, corpse-like, or demonic, and is perhaps "the most identifiable aspect of the black metal aesthetic."
Wendy Orlean Williams was an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Born in Webster, New York, she came to prominence as the lead singer of the punk rock band Plasmatics. Her onstage theatrics included partial nudity, exploding equipment, firing a shotgun, and chainsawing guitars. Dubbed the "Queen of Shock Rock" and the "Metal Priestess", Williams was considered the most controversial and radical female singer of her time. Performing her own stunts in videos, she often sported a mohawk hairstyle. In 1985, during the height of her popularity as a solo artist, she was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
Love It to Death is the third studio album by American rock group Alice Cooper, released in March 1971. It was the band's first commercially successful album and the first album that consolidated the band's aggressive hard-rocking sound. The album's best-known track, "I'm Eighteen", was released as a single to test the band's commercial viability before the album was recorded.
Shock value is the potential of an image, text, action, or other form of communication, such as a public execution, to provoke a reaction of sharp disgust, shock, anger, fear, or similar negative emotions.
"The Dope Show" is a song from Marilyn Manson's 1998 album Mechanical Animals, released in September of that year as the album's lead single. The lyrics were written by Marilyn Manson and the music composed by Twiggy Ramirez.
"Lunchbox" is the second single from American rock band Marilyn Manson's debut album, Portrait of an American Family (1994). A heavy metal song that features elements of death metal, industrial music and punk rock, "Lunchbox" was written by the band's eponymous vocalist, Daisy Berkowitz, and Gidget Gein, and produced by Manson with Trent Reznor. According to Berkowitz, the track was written as the frontman's plea to be left alone; it was also inspired by a time where Manson defended himself from bullies with a Kiss lunchbox. The track features elements of "Fire" (1968) performed by Arthur Brown, a musician who influenced the band.
This is a timeline documenting the formative events in heavy metal music before 1970.
"Rock Is Dead" is a song by American rock band Marilyn Manson, released as the third single from their third studio album, Mechanical Animals (1998). It was written by the band's eponymous frontman, along with bassist Twiggy Ramirez and keyboardist Madonna Wayne Gacy, and was produced by Manson, Michael Beinhorn and Sean Beavan. A glam rock and heavy metal track with elements of electronic music and grunge, the song features electric and bass guitars, keyboards, and live drums in its instrumentation. The song was featured on the soundtrack of the Wachowskis' film The Matrix (1999).
Rosemary's Billygoat is an American heavy metal/hard rock band formed in Los Angeles' South Bay in 1991, consisting of singer Mike Odd, guitarist Neal Gargantua, bassist Pat Trick and drummer Paul Bearer.
Metal Evolution is a 2011 documentary series directed by anthropologist and film-maker Sam Dunn and director, producer and music supervisor Scot McFadyen about heavy metal subgenres, with new episodes airing every Friday at 10pm EST on MuchMore and Saturday at 10pm EST on VH1 Classic. Its origins come from Dunn's first documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, which included the acclaimed "Heavy Metal Family Tree."
The Masters of Madness Tour was the double bill North American concert tour co-headlined by American rock bands Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. Launched in support of Cooper's 26th full-length studio LP, 2011's Welcome 2 My Nightmare and Manson's 8th full-length studio LP, 2012's Born Villain, the tour visited stadiums from June 1, 2013 through July 7, 2013.