The way of faith for Alice Cooper

By Steve Beard

2002

It was recently announced that the biggest hit in the 24-year history of MTV is a program called “The Osbournes.” The half-hour show – complete with constant bleeping from excessive foul language – is a curiously fascinating docu-comedy starring the members of Ozzy Osbourne’s family – wife and two teenage siblings (the eldest child bowed out of the show). Ozzy, of course, is the 53-year-old British rock singer acclaimed for his ghoulish heavy metal performances.

MTV filmed for four months as the Osbournes moved into a new Beverly Hills mansion where they promptly bemoan the loss of their former neighbor, Pat Boone. Ozzy dotters and mumbles around the house trying to figure out the TV remote control, his wife hires a pet therapist to get the dogs to stop pottying in the living room, and the kids scream and chase one another around the Osbourne compound.

Truth be told, I find the show captivating in a strange way. Others hate it. But the television networks are on my side. They are scrambling to tap into this quirky genre of “reality” television. Well, for what it’s worth, here is my recommendation for the next show: Alice Cooper’s family. That’s right, the spooky granddaddy of shock rock who festooned his stage with guillotines, electric chairs, and boa constrictors. Yikes, is right; but it would make a great show.

Imagine watching the reactions of parents as they take their sons to their very first Little League baseball practice only to discover that Alice Cooper is going to be the coach. Or where he tries to organize a carpool to his daughter’s ballet lessons (he has three kids ranging from 10 years old to 20). Or what about when he gets thrown into an unsuspecting golf foursome at the country club. It would be a hoot.

Alice Cooper (born Vincent Furnier) still tours around the world doing his theatrical rock and roll show about three or four months out of the year. He still watches kung-fu movies before his performances and downs Quarter Pounders with cheese afterward. This zany character even shows up regularly at Alice Cooper’stown, his sports-n-rock themed restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona, where he serves Mom’s Tuna Casserole and Megadeth Meatloaf.

At the height of his worldwide fame, Cooper drank a bottle of whiskey a day. But the bottle almost destroyed his marriage to Sheryl, his wife of 25 years. He started heading off to church with her and felt as if God was speaking to him every Sunday. Even at the pinnacle of his ghoulish career (which he believed was no more provocative than a horror movie musical) he still believed in God. The son and grandson of preachers, Cooper’s faith was crippled by the weight of fame and the toxicity of alcoholism.

He experienced every pleasure that money could buy but found no satisfaction. “I was the prodigal son. I left the house, achieved fame and fortune, and found out that that was not what I wanted,” he told HM magazine. “Now I read the Bible every day, I pray every day. That’s really what I’m about.” He continues: “I was one thing at one time, and I’m something new. I’m a new creature now. Don’t judge Alice by what he used to be. Praise God for what I am now.”

Cooper has taken the opportunity to speak to curious fellow musicians about the reality of the devil and the change in his life. “I have talked to some big stars about this, some really horrific characters … and you’d be surprised,” he says. “The ones that you would think are the farthest gone, are the ones that are the most apt to listen.”

Although Cooper’s shows still explore the haunting and ghastly aspects of human nature, its message carries a different twist. “It might sound absolutely insane coming from me, but what the world needs is a good shot of morality,” he said. His last several albums have been dramatic interpretations of what the world would be like without the grace of God. The horror is there, but the message is profoundly different – redeemed. His alter ego is a theatrical prophet of doom, or a rock and roll version of a character pulled from C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.

As for the devil-may-care lifestyle found in some quarters of the rock world, Cooper says, “Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s real rebellion,” he told the London Sunday Times Magazine.

In describing the importance of his Christian faith, he says, “It’s everything. It’s what I live for. If you gave me a choice between rock and roll and my faith, I’d take my faith,” Cooper told The Observer in Australia. “Rock and roll is fun – it’s what I do for a living. But it’s not what I live on. I believe in classic Christianity. I’ve given my whole life to the Lord. But I don’t think that means you can’t be a rock and roller.” After all, as Cooper has said, “I must be the only father that bangs on the bedroom door and says, ‘Turn that music up!’”

Now, that would be a fun show to watch.

 

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