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.
Arthur Brown in 2005. During live performances and in the promotional television video, Brown performed the 1968 song "Fire" wearing black and white makeup (corpse paint) and a burning headpiece.
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".
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 SenatorJoseph 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.