When you think of Alice Cooper, a stage horror and vaudeville show comes to mind.
In the nearly 50 years, most everybody knows Alice Cooper as the “Godfather of Shock.”
He brings his macabre stage show and music to Choctaw Casino and Resort’s Grand Theater at 8 p.m. tonight.
Some tickets may still be available through Ticketmaster for tonight’s show.
There are many urban myths abound about how Vincent Furnier became Alice Cooper and where the name actually came from.
One has Alice Cooper as a real character, a 13th century witch from history.
Another myth was that Alice Cooper, in his younger days, was Eddie Haskell on “Leave it to Beaver.”
He wasn’t Eddie Haskell, Ken Osmond was, but the Alice Cooper myths continue.
One bit of true trivia: Alice Cooper was a character in the fictional world of “Mayberry.”
I spoke with Alice about an array of subjects.
I wanted to hear it directly from him, about how he acquired the name Alice Cooper in the 1970s.
He said, “The short version is, we could have called ourselves something really dark and everything, and I said, “Let’s go the other way. Let’s call ourselves something really sweet sounding.”
It sounds like somebody’s old grandmother who makes cookies for everybody. The first name I thought of was Alice Cooper. That just sounds like a sweet old lady name. It stuck. Instead of getting a blonde folk singer named Alice Cooper, they are getting a dastardly villain and his band, who’s unlike anything else. We play the opposite game on that one.”
He’s heard about the Grand Theater and its perfect acoustics and he is excited to play for the crowd at Choctaw Casino.
Cooper has assembled what he calls “his best touring band ever.”
His show is a full-blown horror movie complete with props designed to frighten a person.
No one is ever really hurt at an Alice Cooper concert but they may be shocked.
His Vincent Price-esque show appeals to all ages.
What will his show be like in Durant?
When I asked him what he’s bringing to the show, Cooper said, “Everything in the truck. We will do the entire Alice Cooper production. The same show we do for 100,000 in England, we will do for Durant. It doesn’t change. Everything, the guillotine, straight-jacket, the snake, everything. It’s a full production of all the hit songs and to make it even better, it’s the best touring band I’ve ever had. Musically, this is probably the best tour we have got.”
Nita Strauss, considered one of the world’s greatest, is a guitarist in his band.
She adds to the perfection of his music for his stage show.
Cooper said, “When we do some of the songs we do,I just let her go on those songs and she tears it up. Everybody expects her to be eye candy up there, then she breaks into a solo and everyone’s mouth kinda drops open.”
His entire band is one of rock’s best.
If there hadn’t been the opportunity to entertain as Alice Cooper, what would he have done?
Cooper said, “I was where I should have been. I mean show business was always a part of my life. I couldn’t see myself doing a normal job. I would have either been acting or I would have been writing for movies or TV or something. It’s in my blood. The creative part is there and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. It was just great the Beatles came along when they did. When I was 16 years old I immediately went, ‘That’s what I want to do right there.’ I don’t want to do it like them, I want to do it like somebody else. After a while, I said ‘I want to do something that hasn’t already been done.’ That’s when we developed the theatrics.”’
With all it’s destruction and pitfalls, Cooper gave up the rock star lifestyle years ago.
No drugs and alcohol for him, and he advocates healing as a way to quit.
I wondered what advice he would have for someone who uses drugs and alcohol and wants to get straight or sober.
Cooper said, “Half the battle is admitting that you got a problem. I have a lot of people come to me saying, ‘Could you call my brother, he’s got an alcohol problem.’
“I can call your brother, but that won’t solve anything. If your brother calls me, then that means that he’s admitting he’s having a problem. If I call him, I’m just like everybody who’s waving their finger in his face, accusing. I said, ‘That’s not going to help at all.’ I said, ‘If he calls me and says, ‘Hey man, I’ve got a problem,’ then he’s halfway home. Then I can direct him in the right direction.”
Drugs killed so many rockers and it still continues to plague all walks of life. Cooper said, “All my friends died at 27, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, T-Rex, all those, my buddies, because they had no control over the drugs or alcohol.”
He’s been a successful husband as well as a sober performer for decades. The born-again Alice Cooper gives the credit to God.
What happened to inspire him to quit?
Cooper said, “I quit 35 years ago. I quit doing everything. I was drinking myself into an early grave. I woke up one morning and threw up blood. My wife who is still my wife after 41 years said, ‘party’s over!’ She was absolutely right. We went to the hospital. I kinda call myself a healed alcoholic because I wasn’t cured, I was healed. I really think God took it away from me.”
His foundation, his efforts to help people get straight and sober, all of these things add to the Alice Cooper mystique.
His foundation, Solid Rock is a love of his life.
He’s grateful to be able to do the things he does and thinks lives wasted on drugs is senseless.
Cooper said, “Solid Rock gives the average teenager, it doesn’t matter what religion, what color, whatever you are, to come in and learn guitar, bass, drums, arts, whatever it is, what you can’t get in school anymore. We opened 30,000 square feet and we get a lot of gang kids in there who aren’t selling meth anymore, because they are playing guitar.”
He loves how music can change someone’s life.
Cooper said, “It changes their life, if they get into music, they get into art and they get into a subject where they are expressing themselves, it changes their family. It changes their neighborhood. It works. We get 100 kids a day in there.”
He wants to save as many lives as possible.
In addition he wants to give the audiences at his shows exactly what they expect and want from him, shock rock.
Cooper said, “I look at it likes it an obligation that if I can help somebody not die, just because, you know, to me it’s so odd, a 14-year-old girl trying to commit suicide. I’m going, “’What in a 14-year-old girl’s life could make her that desperate? Or cutting themselves, or doing heroin at 16 years old, you’re going, … that’s wrong.”’
Cooper hopes to help change some kids thinking and offer an alternative way to live.
He said, “I gotta take a stand on that. The only way I can do that is to offer them something better.”
His foundation benefits from his golf tournament every year. He’s an avid golfer who hits the greens when he can.
He said,“There are lots of good players. The guys who are good players in rock and roll is surprising. Dweezil Zappa, Frank’s son, is a good player. The drummer for No Doubt is a scratch player. There’s guys who are fun to play with like Meatloaf. There’s lots of movie stars who play. I play a lot with Michael Douglas. I play a lot with Stallone. They are a lot of fun to play with. Kevin Costner is a good player.”
Advice for better living is something Cooper has gotten good at over the years.
He knows how to talk to people and sometimes steer them back in the right direction.
His show tonight is about the music. Without the music, there wouldn’t be theatrics.
Cooper said there are fundamentals that must be learned if you want to be a rocker.
Cooper said, “I would say the first thing they should do is listen to the Beatles. Listen to the early Beatles. That’s where all the great songwriting is. If you’re going to be a rock and roll guitar player, learn every Chuck Berry song. That’s Rock and Roll 101 right there.”
Contact Dan Pennington at (580) 634-2162 or [email protected]