3 Eternal Shock Rockers Who Raised Eyebrows and Wrote Hits

Rock and roll is a powerful, often brash genre. And over the course of its history, the music has served to push boundaries, both sonically and socially. Even the existence of the sounds in the 1950s were enough to cause stodgy adults to balk. Not to mention rock’s propensity to highlight the often taboo subjects of sex, drugs, and loud volume, which has continued to modulate boundaries.

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Throughout rock’s history, there have been people who have taken all this a step further and built careers out of being especially shocking presences. Some were theatrical and some were simply outspoken and unafraid to rattle social constructs and suburban households. Here below, we wanted to dive into three such artists and their songs.

[RELATED: Alice Cooper Returns to His Roots on New Album, ‘Detroit Stories’]

Alice Cooper

The quintessential modern shock rocker, Alice Cooper wore dark eye makeup and used props on stage like racing crops and electric chairs to cause audiences to gasp. His music and presence seemed demonic, even when he appeared on The Muppet Show. Born in 1948, Cooper often incorporated a vaudevillian presence into his shows, making them dramatic and eye-popping and infusing them with a sense of (good natured) fear. He was influenced by 1960s shock rocker Arthur Brown, who Cooper said was like watching Halloween. Since then, Cooper has worked to bring a Halloween vibe to any and all at his live shows. There was even a rumor that he once bit off the head of a chicken live on stage.

Ozzy Osbourne

Speaking of biting the heads off of animals, former Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne, who was also born in 1948, bit the head of a dove off after signing a record deal with CBS in 1981. Not only that but a year later while on stage, he bit the head off a bat. With songs like “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” “War Pigs,” and “Crazy Train” to his credit, Osbourne, who also used eye makeup to demonstrate his wild side, is just about as shocking as it gets in rock music. (Some say he even used to snort live ants!)

Courtney Love

Less vaudevillian and more in your face, Love was both shocking on and off stage during her height in the 1990s with her band Hole. But it’s also carried over to today. Born in 1964, the widow of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain has said things like “Taylor [Swift] is not important.” She crashed an MVT interview with Madonna in the 1990s, talked about taking heroin at Charlie Sheen’s house, claimed Britney Spears’ dad sexually assaulted the pop star and even publicly called her own daughter Frances Bean “deceptive and deluded.” While a talented artist and great songwriter, Love has certainly run the gamut when surprising her fans with what might come next.

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Photo by Didier Messens/Redferns

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