Alice Cooper gave up drinking decades ago. So what did the rock legend do to replace the hedonism that claimed the life of so many of his contemporaries?
He took up golf.
“I quit drinking 35 years ago. I was on the verge of joining all my friends: Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix and those guys. I woke up one morning and threw up blood, realizing that was probably a sign that something was going wrong. So I went to the hospital and I came out a healed alcoholic, not necessarily a cured one, but a healed one. God just kind of took it away from me,” he said. “But the thing of it was, I had to find something else that was going to be an addiction for me, that was not going to kill me and I was a pretty good baseball player, so I said, ‘It can’t be that hard to hit a ball that’s not moving,’ and then all of a sudden you get addicted to the game of golf and at least it’s a healthy addiction, it’s not something that’s going to kill you.”
Cooper, who comes to the Bell Auditorium for a gig on Sunday, April 30, went on to say that not only hasn’t he had a drink in decades, he hasn’t really even thought about it.
“I can sit down with people drinking all night and it never even occurs to me to have a drink,” he explained. “I’m 35 years behind it, so I know it’s gone for me. It’s not like I’m Superman, but it really is gone out of my life and that’s great. To me that’s a healing, it’s not really a cure.”
Golf, on the other hand? Cooper said he and his bandmates can’t go a day without an 18-hole round. He says it’s how they stay sane during yearly tours that last at least six months and 100 shows.
“Well, first of all, I get up every morning and play golf,” he said. “I play 18 holes a day and my guitar player plays and so does my bass player. So we get up and play golf every morning no matter where we are. And I understand you do have some golf courses in Augusta. There’s one I can think of that I’ve heard of.”
Given the fact that he’s such a diehard golfer, then, it’s a little surprising that Cooper has never played a show in Augusta nor played golf at the Augusta National.
“I don’t think we’ve ever played Augusta. We’ve been touring for something like 48 years and it’s very hard for me to believe that we’ve never played Augusta,” he laughed. “And I’ve seen the course (at Augusta National) but I’ve never played it. And of course, if you’re an avid golfer like I am, that’s the holy grail, that’s the golf course that everyone wants to at least see how they’d do on it. I don’t think it’s a course I would even keep score on, I would just want to play it.”
Despite the rigors of touring, which Cooper has been doing for nearly half a century, he says he still enjoys it.
“If it was just a regular rock band it would get a little old, but when you’re in an Alice Cooper show, it’s a production. It’s like being in a Broadway show almost, or a sort of weird vaudeville (show) where every night it’s sort of a weird, living, breathing type of thing that changes almost every day because the band is very creative. I let the band be every creative in the whole process and every once in a while they’ll say, ‘Why don’t we switch this song with that song, let’s put this song in,’ or I might tell them, ‘We’re going to bring in this whole new section.’ And if you’re doing 130 shows, you know, in a year, it keeps it living, it keeps it from getting static. You’re up there doing ‘Poison’ and ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy.’ Almost every song you’re doing is one people have heard on the radio, so it’s pretty hard to get bored with it.”
Not only that, touring is a family affair.
“My wife actually plays a couple parts in the show and we’ve been married 41 years. She started in the Welcome to My Nightmare show in 1976 and she’s still now in the show again and she is amazing,” he said. “She plays like three or four characters and this is probably the best band I’ve ever worked with so every night is fun for us. When we get up on stage, the band is so good, the show is so packed and I’m with my wife every night on stage, so I really look forward to touring.”
And, hopefully, after playing the Bell Sunday night, he may just get to play a little golf the next morning.
Sunday, April 30