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Alice Cooper

November 2007

Every night, you'll find Alice Cooper in a straitjacket swinging from a noose. It's the end of a typical evening that has seen him abuse his bride with a rapier knife. There are disappearing coffins, electric chairs... and Hillary Clinton doesn't fare too well either this time. The next morning, without fail - even on tour - he'll be up early for a round a golf. By teatime he and family will be gathering round the TV to watch Deal Or No Deal.
The lives of Vincent Furnier - a married (for 31 years) father of three - and his sociopath alter-ego, are worlds apart.
Not that it was always the case.
"I came so close to destroying myself so many times because I didn't know when I was supposed to be Alice, I didn't know when I was supposed to be me," says the 59-year-old from his Albuquerque hotel room.
He admits that there were many times he could have gone the way of many of his rock star friends.
But golf saved him. Sort of.
"There's a time when you draw the line in the sand and decide - am I going to die or am I going to live? Iggy, Steve Tyler, Ozzy all did that. I decided I'd rather make 20 more albums."
And play golf.
"Yeah, that had a lot to do with me living. I had to find something that was going to take that time up. In the business I'm in, you really only have to be responsible from nine to 11 at night. The rest of the time you can do what you like, which is horrible for an alcoholic."
While most of his contemporaries are dead - he still wears a friendship ring given to him by George Harrison in 1972 - Cooper continues to play arenas. Getting off the booze is one thing but to still be on top after four decades... is that down to the theatrics?
"I honestly think it's more about the music. The theatrics are the icing on the cake. People want to hear Billion Dollar Babies, Eighteen, Poison, School's Out, Elected and all those songs. We're doing 28 songs in this show, including all the hits. When I go and see The Who or the Rolling Stones, I want to hear those songs."
That said, he'll never take the guillotine, noose and general gorefest away.

"I think people would hate it. There'll never be an unplugged Alice Cooper. I could very well do that but I'm never going to."
The theatrics have, he admits, overshadowed recognition of his songwriting for the most part.
"I think I've battled that all my life. The theatrics are certainly more sensational but if you take the theatrics out of it and just listen to the records... you know even the critics that hated us at the beginning came around and said 'you know what, these are really good songs'".
John Lennon cited Elected as his favourite song at one point and Bob Dylan once described him as "an underrated songwriter".
Says Cooper: "That was one of the great compliments of my life. For somebody like Bob Dylan to have ever even have listened to any of my songs..."
The Pyscho-Drama Tour is a horror fest that includes a gallows, straightjacket and a Hillary Clinton parody. Two years ago, when he last played Nottingham Arena, it was Paris Hilton going under the knife. Prior to that Britney Spears - he'd decided to give her a rest as she was pregnant.
"Who knew she was going to be so worthy of inclusion in the show," he laughs.
"I didn't see the nervous breakdown coming.
"This year, because we have the elections in the States right now, Hillary Clinton seems to have walked in to our path. Though the Spice Girls are so tempting. You might see a little take-off of them."
Has ever gone too far?
"In the beginning we didn't know what too far was but really Alice has always been a gentleman. There's a certain elegance about the character. He's very much like Hannibal Lecter. He'd slit your throat but he'd never swear at you."
On the other hand, the most damage Vincent Furnier is likely to do you is to sit you through episode after episode of Deal Or No Deal.
"My family got so addicted to this," he says of the US version of the show (though he is well aware of Noel Edmonds).
"We have a friend who is living with us at the moment because she's at college and she's in the second stages of becoming a contestant. If she gets through, we'll be the family in the audience going 'Take the money! No, don't take the money!'.
"It is the most exciting thing in our family right now."
There's no new album to plug with this tour but there is a book, Golf Monster: A Rock 'n' Roller's 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf Addict. Rather than be a tutorial it mixes his passion for the sport with a few stories. Like the time he worked with Salvador Dali.
"Dali hands down," he says when I ask who was the barmiest, Dali or Frank Zappa.
"He was totally unpredictable. He spoke six languages and when he was talking to you one word would be in Portuguese, one in French, one in English... you could only understand about one in every six words. On top of that he's speaking in some sort of surrealistic imaginary language.
"At one point during the Press conference when we worked together they asked me what it is like working with Dali? And I said 'I've no idea. I haven't understood a word he said for all three days'
"He used to call my manager, Shep Gordon, Mr Blemmings.
"And we never figured out who Mr Blemmings was."
He had the same trouble with Peter Sellers who always referred to Cooper as Inspector Maurice Escargot.
"It was at the time he was doing Clouseau when I'd dressed Alice as a kind of 1940s detective for the shows, like a Sam Spade character. He'd call me that at every show. He'd come to them all. I just adored the guy. I never saw his dark side. It was hard for me to understand that there even was a dark side. But I didn't see a dark side to Keith Moon, either. Only the insanity."

The book also recalls the time he ran against Nixon for president - a PR stunt and nothing more, he says.
"I hate politics with a passion. I don't understand how rock 'n' roll got in bed with politics."
I blame Bono.
"But Bono does things that are kind of social. I don't understand how rock 'n' roll or acting gets in to 'hey, you should elect this guy'.
"Because, honestly, we're rock stars because we're morons.
"Rock 'n' roll should be pretty mindless as far as I'm concerned."

Possibly the best story is the time he pointed a gun on Elvis. How so?
"I was invited up to see Elvis," he says.
"We all get in an elevator and there's Liza Minnelli, Chubby Checker and Linda Lovelace and the next thing I'm standing there with a gun on him. He was trying to show me how to take a gun out of somebody's hand.
"So I'm standing there with a loaded .38 on Elvis and a little guy on my shoulder is going 'shoot him! It'll be the greatest Press you'll ever get'."

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