Villainous Alice Cooper, rock’s prodigal son

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Alice Cooper

By Mark Ellis —

He has been called the godfather of shock-rock, mixing elements of horror movies into acts that have included an unpalatable array of guillotines, fake blood, baby dolls and boa constrictors. Yet many would be surprised to learn of his Christian roots and his homecoming to the faith after sowing his oats as the ultimate prodigal.

“My father was a pastor and my grandfather was an evangelist, actually both were evangelists,” Cooper told the Harvest Show. “I grew up in the church and all my friends were church kids. I had so much fun. I was in church Sunday, Wednesday night, Friday night. All my social life was based around kids in the church.”

When the Beatles invaded the American music scene in the ’60s, Cooper (born Vincent Furnier) was captivated and formed a band called The Spiders among his classmates, mimicking the Beatles’ style. After a couple years of recording songs, he realized something was missing from the rock scene.

“I looked around and thought, ‘There’s no villains in rock and roll, why not create rock’s ultimate villain?’ Furnier created a character known as Alice Cooper, who appeared on stage as a debased female killer wearing tattered women’s clothing, with smeared deep, dark black eyeliner on his face.

At first, he didn’t think “playing” the role of an antihero on stage would affect his Christianity. “I didn’t think about how that might affect my faith at all. The Bible is full of villains. I thought, ‘I’ll be this villain.’”

“I gave Alice his perimeters, those areas he wouldn’t go past,” he told the Harvest Show. Eventually, the band adopted the same name as its infamous lead.

alice cooper gallowsTheir first big success came with the single “I’m Eighteen,” which reached number 21 on Billboard’s top 100 in early 1971.

Cooper’s 1971-72 tours featured a stage show with mock fights and gothic torture scenes, Cooper hugging a boa constrictor, chopping bloodied baby dolls, and a staged execution.

In 1972 their single “School’s Out” went into the Top 10 in the U.S. and to number one in the UK. The band horrified parents and outraged politicians in the U.K. A British Labor MP petitioned the home secretary to have the group banned from performing in the country and one of their songs was banned by the BBC.

Furnier aka Cooper was drawn into a self-destructive lifestyle and left his Christian roots behind. “The things you heard about us were pretty insane,” he told Mulatschag TV in Austria. “We were probably a threat to the pubic at the time. We were the ones who lived. Most of our friends died trying to be rock stars.”

Cooper counted among his friends Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Keith Moon. “I drank with these guys every night and I watched every one of them go down. The reason is that they tried to be their character off stage,” he recalls.

His heavy drinking began to exact a toll on his body. “I drank for a long time. I was throwing up blood every

Alice Cooper

morning. I was really a bad alcoholic. I wasn’t cruel or mean, but I was definitely self-destructive,” he says. At its worst, reports said he was consuming two cases of Budweiser and a bottle of whisky every day.

Following his 1977 US tour, Cooper checked himself into a sanitarium for treatment of his alcoholism. Six years later, he was hospitalized for alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver.

“I had to go through the cure,” he told Mulatschag TV. “I came out of the hospital and it was a miracle. My alcoholism was gone. God took it away from me. It was an absolute miracle. In 30 years I have never once had a craving for alcohol. That doesn’t happen every day.”

After Cooper hit bottom and he saw God’s hand in his recovery, it forced him to reevaluate his faith. He reconciled with his estranged wife, Sheryl Goddard, a ballerina instructor and choreographer who had performed in his shows in the 1970s. Her father was a Baptist pastor.

The two began to attend church together in Phoenix. “There was a pastor in Phoenix who was hell-fire. There would be 6000 people there and he was talking to me, every Sunday. Of course he wasn’t, but he was, just nailing me. Every week I’d come out exhausted and I said, ‘I don’t want to go back.’ It was like torture, but I always came back.”

God had been wooing the heart of a prodigal to come home. “I finally decided I had to go to one side or the other. I had to make a decision because I was so convicted. The Lord really convicted me,” he says.

Alice Cooper returned to the Father’s house, and God met him with outstretched arms and the love reserved for every prodigal who comes home.

With his wife
With his wife

A God-shaped hole in Cooper’s heart was filled. “When that’s filled you’re really satisfied. That’s where I am right now. I’m very young in the faith even though I grew up in it, so I do a lot of Bible reading and Bible studies,” he says.

He and his wife attend “a good, strong, Bible-teaching church,” but I’m still a rock and roller going out on tour. “I don’t do it in the same spirit I used to do it in. I watch the songs lyrically. Some of the songs I used to do were way over the line.”

“Before I was self-centered. Everything was for me. Self was God. Humans make really lousy gods. We have to let God be God and let us be what we are. My focus changed. Instead of serving me I began to serve Christ.”

“I am the perfect example of the prodigal son.”

 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Am glad to hear about your return to the Lord, Vincent. I too grew up in Sunday school, and Wednesday night church during my adolescent years as well, all the while listening to Alice Cooper. I was 13 when I got my first A.C. album- Welcome to my Nightmare. ..then came the drugs..

    I wish I could say that soon afterwards the ‘light bulb’ went on, and I turned my life around, but it didn’t, and I didn’t. Drugs and alcohol have adversely affected my life.
    Today I struggle with the consequences of sin in my body, and am sincerely wanting God’s touch once again.

  2. Thank you for it is prayers of his saints and God’s heart toward the darkest of dark !Just a glance a moment with the Father, he turns on the light!. from www. Fly Your Faith.com
    JOIN US!

  3. Thanks for the amazing testimony! Robert Dunn, what God does for one, He will do for Dunn!!! He is no respecter of persons! His love will set you free as well! He took your sin and washed it white as snow! Ask Holy Spirit to help you overcome because the work is finished at the cross! So I come into agreement with you to confess, ask God to forgive, forgive yourself and know it is already forgiven and allow Holy Spirit to come in and fill the hurts and disappointments and don’t look back!!! Past will destroy you, so look to Jesus! Can’t change the past, but the future is bright ahead of you!!! We break off the chains that bind you because of your confession and the finished work of the cross and we speak to your body to come into alignment that by His stripes, you are healed! We speak to every desire for masking the pain be gone in Jesus name! Fill Robert with shalom peace in Jesus name! We thank you, Lord for your grace, mercy and most of all…Your unfailing love that is continually shown to us all daily! Bless Robert and send a baptism of love to him now in Your most Holy and exalted name, Jesus! Amen
    Robert, receive this! God looks at you through the blood of Jesus! You are worthy! Your are righteous….not because of who we are, but because of Jesus! So we break off rejection in Jesus name because you are a His beloved son! You are accepted! He sees your heart! Start speaking differently! No more guilt, shame or condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! See yourself wrapped in the love of Jesus! Wow, you are an amazing child of God!!! Keep looking up, my brother!!!!

    • NO MAN can serve 2 masters,you will either HATE ONE OR LOVE THE OTHER ORhold onto one and despise the other you cannot serve God and mammon. no need to be judgemental but a rock and roller worships who??????? make a clean break, separate yourself, remember having a FORM of godliness but denying the power thereof is not enough!!!
      been there done that!!!! i had to make a choice. God bless 🙂

  4. Thank you for your words of encouragement as I have a prodigal son as well, my heart
    breaks for him, if you would consider praying for him, I would greatly appreciate it,
    His name is Daniel, he is 24 and looking for a woman that would be faithful and true.

  5. Father in Heaven, bless Daniel Lord, you have known him since before he was in his mother’s womb; shine Your pure clear light in his heart; guide him, fill him with your loving, kind Spirit. May he know you Lord and thank You Lord that Your Word does not return empty; may Your good and perfect will be done in his life, and also in my son Daniel’s life. Amen.

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