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Aug2ThuHeavy metal legend Alice Cooper's most controversial act is dedicating his life to God. August 2, 2018 by David Goodwin
When Alice Cooper comes to town, it’s not just a concert—it’s a full-on theatrical production.
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- Faith & Friends
The Man Behind the Show
The man known as “The Godfather of Shock Rock” is famous for his elaborately staged—and often shocking—onstage theatrics. Playing on imagery taken straight from horror movies, his shows are a spectacle in their own right, featuring guillotines and electric chairs, fake blood and real snakes. Even casual fans would recognize his distinctive look anywhere, with his long, dark hair, Gothic makeup and costume motif that can only be described as magnificently sinister.
For those who see heavy metal as a malignant influence that corrupts youth, or standing for immorality and debauchery, he represents their worst nightmares. From the persona he projects on stage to some of the sensational stories of his heavy metal exploits—including the mistaken claim that he bit the head off a chicken during a live show!—he is the poster child for shock-rock edginess.
He has been so successful at building this persona that people believe the act and think they are seeing the real Alice Cooper. But the man behind the show—born Vincent Damon Furnier—is first to stress that there is much more to him than people think.
Change of Direction
In an interview with The Independent, Alice tried to explain his relationship with his alter ego, saying, “I treat Alice in the third person, because I can’t take him anywhere. He belongs on stage. But there was a grey area for a long time when I didn’t know where I began and where Alice ended.”
This grey area included a time in his life where Alice struggled to deal with some of the excesses of the rock star lifestyle.
“When I was 30, I was a mess. I was drinking a bottle of whisky a day. I did shows that weren’t anywhere near as good as the shows I do now.”
In another interview, with dw.com, he says that he recognized the dangers of buying into his own publicity.
“Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain died because they wanted to embody their stage presence at all times. They drank and took drugs to do so,” he said. “When I stopped drinking, I made a decision. I wanted to co-exist as a person alongside the stage figure Alice Cooper. But I didn’t want to be that figure all the time.”
Fortunately for Alice, and for music, he was able to avoid sharing their fate, returning to the foundation his upbringing had given him and finding a power that could change his direction.
“I grew up in a Christian house,” Alice told HM Magazine. “My dad was a pastor, he was an evangelist for 25 years, and I used to do missionary work with him in Arizona. My grandfather was a pastor for 75 years. And the father of my wife, Sheryl, is a Baptist pastor.”
It was this faith that ended up not only saving their marriage but also his life, when his drinking got to the point where he says it would have killed him. At one stage, he even “started throwing up blood in the morning,” leading Sheryl to file for divorce.
“I finally realized I had to go one side or the other,” said Alice. “The Lord said, ‘Look, it’s time to make a decision here.’ ”
When God delivered him from alcohol, he told writer Hasset Anteneh, he went back to his faith. Alice and Sheryl now attend Camelback Bible Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona, to focus on growing and strengthening their faith.
And in an effort to follow God’s will in his life, Cooper adjusted his act. He no longer performs some of his older songs that promote promiscuity and alcohol. And nowadays, he writes songs that are thoughtful and reflect his faith.
Unlike his stage presence, Alice’s deep faith is neither an act nor something he takes lightly. Many who line up to buy his CDs would be surprised to learn that Alice Cooper occasionally teaches Sunday school at his local church.
Although Alice is a man transformed, he hasn’t stopped making great music or lost that heavy metal edge. In fact, he thinks this change has made him both a better performer and a better person.
While he is happy to share his faith, he doesn’t believe in “celebrity Christianity.”
“It’s easy to focus on Alice Cooper and not on God,” he believes. “I’m a rock singer, nothing more. I’m not a philosopher. I consider myself low on the totem pole of knowledgeable Christians. So, don’t look for answers from me.”
He does, however, use his position as an elder statesman of rock to try to make a positive difference. When he saw that alcohol and drugs were becoming a problem for members of one of the biggest heavy metal bands in the world, Megadeth, Alice offered his support. It was a gesture their front man and co-founder, Dave Mustaine, appreciated so much he calls Alice his “godfather.”
“I’ve made myself available to friends of mine,” Alice told Billboard magazine after he received the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award as an acknowledgment of the work he has done in supporting those struggling with addiction. “They’re people who would call me late at night and say, ‘Between you and me, I’ve got a problem.’ ”
But, as Alice explained to Huff-Post, some people may find it hard to look beyond the stage show, seeing a contradiction between rock icon and man of faith. “But I’m dead serious about it. I can still be Alice Cooper, and be a Christian.
“Be careful! Satan is not a myth,” he concludes. “Don’t sit around pretending Satan is just a joke. My job is to warn about Satan.”
Reprinted from The War Cry [Australia], February 24, 2018