As he writes in his highly readable autobiography, Alice Cooper, Golf Monster, the father of shock rock credits the game for helping him maintain his sobriety, replacing a fondness for heavy boozing with the decidedly healthier obsession of birdies and bogeys after his second stint in rehab. Today, Cooper is recognized as one of the best celebrity amateur golfers, sporting an impressive four handicap and playing up to six days a week, even while on tour.
But the 60-year-old is still a rocker at heart, and his current Theatre of Death tour finds him still supporting his most recent album, last year's Along Came a Spider. The concept record finds Cooper taking the guise of "Spider," a serial killer who offs unsuspecting female prey, wraps their bodies in silk, removes a leg, and, um, eats it. That is, until he falls in love with his eighth victim and loses his lust for murder. Or so the listener thinks, until the twist ending.
Recorded with his touring band, the narrative features some of Cooper's toughest and hardest-sounding tracks, like "Vengeance Is Mine," "Wake the Dead," "Catch Me if You Can," and "I'm Hungry." There are also a few softer numbers like "Killed by Love" and "Salvation," sung in his underappreciated ballad voice.
"Spider is a combination of Alice and another guy," Cooper explains. "Alice has a certain sense of humor in what he says. It's poetic, but there's always a veiled threat somewhere."
The fact that Alice Cooper — he legally changed his name years ago — the man talks about "Alice Cooper" the stage persona underscores what he's always maintained: that the guy who snarls at his audience, plays with snakes, and gets electrocuted/hung/beheaded every night is the embodiment of fiction.
Otherwise, how could Cooper possibly allow his beloved wife and daughter into Alice's evil world? Cooper met his wife of some 32 years, Sheryl, when she was a dancer on one of his '70s tours. And daughter Calico — who now plays her father's nurse and torturer onstage — endures things that would give any family psychiatrist an aneurysm.
"Believe it or not, my daughter and I have the greatest relationship of all time!" enthuses Calico's dad. "We'll go to a mall in the middle of a tour, and she can't ever get all of the bruising makeup off of her. So it looks like she's been beaten up, and people are looking at me like, 'Who's this old, creepy, longhaired guy, and what's he doing to her?' "