Alice Cooper was embarrassed he beat Led Zeppelin and Paul McCartney to the top of the charts.

The American entertainer is instantly recognisable by his long black hair and heavy eye make-up.

He's been working in music since the '60s, and has released more than 25 albums.

When he first got to number one in the charts though, Alice recalls how inferior he felt compared to his idols.

"In this business it's important to be competitive. We went from being a garage band to being the best garage band in Arizona. Then we went to LA, the competition was much harder and that made us work," Alice revealed to Q magazine.

"The first time I saw my record at number one and I looked at who was below me, I was embarrassed. I almost want to call Led Zeppelin and Paul McCartney and say, 'I'm really sorry.’ They were my teachers."

Alice, real name Vincent Damon Furnier, is known for his raucous onstage antics, which supposedly include biting the head off a live chicken.

While he still relishes playing the dark character of Alice, the 66-year-old rocker has come to realise how to separate his onstage and real life persona.

"There was a time when I didn't know where Alice started and I ended. If I walked down the street, I wondered if people would be disappointed if I wasn't wearing a snake around my neck," he confessed.

"What killed Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin was the fact that they were trying to be their image all the time. When I play Alice there's a personality change. Alice is not going into the audience saying, 'Gosh, I hope you like us'. Alice is whispering, 'Come here.’"