10 Questions With… Alice Cooper
Rock star and philanthropist
You’re 74 and still rocking strong. Any tips to share?
I got sober 40 years ago, and I never smoked cigarettes. That has a lot to do with longevity. Plus, if you love what you do, it’s not really a job.
When you started out, did you think your career would last this long?
Nobody thought in those days that anyone would get past 30. It turned out 27 was the expiration date for most rock stars. We all took our cues from the Beatles and the Stones. McCartney is still touring, and so is Ringo. They’re well into their 80s. No one can explain Keith Richards.
You’re known for your stage antics, but you’re a famously nice guy. What else would readers be surprised to learn about you?
Most people know I am a Christian. I have taught Bible study. I am a ninja with throwing knives and was inducted into the International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame. And I NEVER get nervous before a show.
You are famous for your signature rocker style. Do you have a stylist, or does your wife Sheryl help with the shopping?
I am my own stylist. I help Sheryl with her shopping.
How has your style changed over the years?
My offstage style motto is: “You Get Older, But You Don’t Have to Be Old.” You’ll never see me wearing baggy pants, suspenders or comfortable shoes.
You are changing the lives of local youth with your Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers. Why did you start them?
I felt that God was directing Sheryl and me toward teenagers. My thoughts are that every teenager has talent. Let’s find it through The Rock Teen Center’s fine art programs (guitar, drum, bass, keyboards, dance, art, voice and technical production). When they find that talent, it can break a potentially negative cycle and steer them toward a better lifestyle and amazing opportunities. Some teens don’t know they’re a guitar player until they pick up a guitar.
I share with them that when I was 15 years old, I didn’t know what to do with myself. My friends and I started the band. I learned to sing, write songs and perform onstage by trial and error. Thirty gold albums later, well … you know.
What does it feel like to share your love of music in a safe, nurturing space?
Music is THE international language. I can talk to a 70-year-old classic rock guy or a 17 year old about music. Everyone has different tastes, and I love turning young guitar players on to Jeff Beck, Mike Bloomfield and Frank Zappa and having them listen to some of the greatest solos ever played.
If you could have dinner with one musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
Paul Butterfield. He was the greatest blues harp player ever. I learned how to play harmonica by listening to his first two albums.
What would you like your own legacy to be?
The man who married hard rock to stage theatrics and made it work for six decades. I would be the Ziegfield of rock ‘n’ roll.
Is there anything you’d like our readers to know about you or the Solid Rock Teen Centers?
The Lord Jesus Christ changed my life in such a positive way. He gave me the talent I have and turned me from a drunken wreck to a new life so that Solid Rock could be a reality and become a positive force in the lives of teenagers. I’m still the greatest villain in rock ‘n’ roll, but for all the right reasons.
To learn more, visit alicecoopersolidrock.com.