He Is Worthy: Alice Cooper is going to heaven, and he knows it

He plays Ruth Eckerd Hall on March 23.

click to enlarge Alice Cooper, who plays Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida on March 23, 2018. - Rob Fenn
Rob Fenn
Alice Cooper, who plays Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida on March 23, 2018.

Alice Cooper thinks he's going to heaven. In fact, he seems to know it. Just ask him about the time a nuclear bomb was about to drop on the Hawaiian islands.

"I'm tellin' ya, people were putting their babies in sewers," Cooper told CL in a quick phone call from his home in Arizona. Cooper, 70, was on Maui when that accidental nuclear bomb alert went off, but for some reason he felt peace.

"I was in Maui on Makena [Golf & Beach Club]. It's 84 degrees, I just shot even on the front and I'm standing there all of a sudden [the alert] comes up. You never want to see the words 'ballistic,' 'imminent' and 'not drill' in one sentence, and that's what it said."

In Cooper's mind?

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"I kept looking at it going the worst that could happen is that I go from this paradise to the next one, and the next one is probably better than this one," he said, laughing.

"So there's a certain calmness to it. I think your faith does give you that certain calmness and it's not an uncertainty in death. You know what you believe and you know what you're promised, and so I was not that shaken by the whole thing."

All ended up being fine, however, and Cooper is still headed to Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall on March 23.

"When it said 'All clear,' I went "OK, it's not my time."

Read the rest of our Q&A — and get more information on the show — below.

Alice Cooper
Fri., March 23, 8 p.m. $48.75-$93.75.
Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, 1111 McMullen Booth Rd.
More info: local.cltampa.com

Hey Coop, how are you?

I'm doing great, how about you?

Not bad, sorry you're cooped up in the interview room today. We'll get you out quick and painless. Like the doctor.

Well I'm at home in Arizona, and the sun is out, there is no snow, so I'm like you, I'm probably in the only place in America where it's not snowing.

Yeah, it's like I should have worn extra deodorant today because it's getting sweaty in here. What did you shoot today?

You know what? I didn't play today.

Ah. It's one of those days.

I took the day off which is unusual for me, but tomorrow I'm playing. Don't worry. But I just got back from Pebble Beach and Spyglass.

OK, and you're happy with your shots?

I shot 79 at Pebble Beach and 78 at Spyglass.

Right on. I like it. It's interesting you told that story, because you told a story one time about not being able to play with Glen because you had some interviews, or something like that. The interview with Glen was interesting because you talked about your faith in the context of Glen Campbell and I know you have a pretty strong faith but are you 100 percent confident when it's all said and done, you get to go to Heaven, that perfect place that you talk about?

Well you know, I happened to be in Maui when the nuclear attack happened

Yeah! And then you had the car crash a few weeks later, I think.

It was a head-on car crash, so God is looking after me right now, because I was unhurt in both of them. But there I was in Maui on McKenna. It's 84 degrees, I just shot even on the front and I'm standing there all of a sudden it comes up. You never want to see the words ballistic, eminent and not drill in one sentence, and that's what it said. And I kept looking at it going the worst that could happen is that I go from this paradise to the next one, and the next one is probably better than this one. [laughs] So there's a certain calmness to it. I think your faith does give you that certain calmness and it's not an uncertainty in death. You know what you believe and you know what you're promised, and so I was not that shaken by the whole thing. At all. When it said "all clear" I went "OK, it's not my time." But I'm tellin' ya, people were putting their babies in sewers.

Oh my God!

Yeah, because they would've been the only safe place to be. Ya'know?

Yeah. Wow. That is so crazy. When I read that Billboard interview, it was wild. Did you get your Shelby yet?

I did, I did get the Shelby. I got a 350 Shelby Mustang, 65 hertz. It's black with gold stripes and it's absolutely perfect. It drives as good as it looks.

That's awesome. So moving on from that paradise to this one that you're in right now, the tour starts in a week, and you said you've assembled the best players possible, Tommy, Glen, Nina Straus from Iron Maidens. Orianti is out. Who is on tour with you?

Yeah she is working with Richie Sambora, and that is good combination to be honest with you. I've got Tommy Hendrickson on guitar, Ryan Rocky on guitar and I've got Hurricane and I've got Chuck Erickson(?) on bass and Glen Sobel just got named Best Drummer in Rock and Roll, so there you go. The great thing about this band is that everybody is best friends and so you never ever hear any back biting or any band politics that you always get. These guys just laughing all the time and they can't wait to get on stage. To me, I've got a band that I look toward touring [with]. I don't look at it as being that much work. It's going to be fun.

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Reaching back to some different times for the band, I think I'm reaching back to the '81 riot era, I think you have a Tampa connection because Mike Pinera was in a band called Blues Image and I believe he played guitar for a little, do you remember that?

Yeah, Mike Pinera is one of those guys — and I'm not kidding — that if you go to Iceland and say rock and roll, somebody will say, "oh do you know Mike Pinera?" I swear that guy's networked everywhere in the world. I get people asking me about Mike Pinera to this day! I don't know how he got around so much but he was truly insane, when he was in my band he was certifiably insane.

That's awesome! Blues Image was big for this town. I wanted to ask you about some songs. I think you're playing "Brutal Planet", "Roses on White Lace", and then "Serious" right? These are some gems that we are going to hear on this upcoming Paranormal Tour, or no?

I never would have attempted two of those songs. "Serious" I wouldn't because the singing is a five part harmony and yet they do all that on "Poison" and they sing "Poison" exactly like the record. And then on top of it I've got my wife Sheryl who plays two parts in the show. She plays the Nurse and the Ragdoll, she sings all the high harmonies in my band and also in The Vampires. So we have to hit all those notes for "Serious" and "Roses on White Lace" I wouldn't have tried before only because I didn't have a shredder, now I've got Nina. Nina's a shredder so she can play that Dane Roberts' stuff.

And you've talked about different parts of the show and I think in the opera, you do "Only Women Bleed" and I was wondering if you did do that song on this tour, and also I wanted to ask if you had thought about that song now that all this MeToo stuff has come out. You're always ahead of the curve. It was on that show "Better Things" and it's a song about domestic abuse, so has that came to mind recently?

When I wrote the song, I needed a ballad, I wanted a little ballet in my Welcome to My Nightmare and we didn't have any real ballad yet and so I sat down with Dick Wagner and started writing this thing and I was watching TV and somebody something said something on TV that sounded like "only women bleed" and I just said "Did he just say only women bleed?" and Dick "no" and I said "well, that's what I heard" and I wrote it down and he started playing this little figure on guitar and that song was written in like fifteen minutes. When I look back at it and started psycho-analyzing what the song was about, I realized it was really about women bleeding emotionally. Not bleeding physically because that's the obvious thing they would be thinking of, but it was the emotional bleeding that women did that men don't do and that separates the sexes right there. It sort of wrote itself at that point.

Right on. I like listening to you reflect on some older songs. I know you're PK and you're one of the more moderate conservatives that I know, and I was going to ask you some morality stuff and Pennsylvania Avenue [stuff], but I know that you think rockstars are the last people that should be commenting on politics.

Yeah. Not just that but I've always loved the fact that people come to rockstars and ask us political questions, as if we know something you don't know. I mean we're sitting here going, do you guys understand we watch cartoons most of the time? I mean what would I be able to tell you about politics that your mailman couldn't tell you. We don't have any special phone line into the Pentagon or the Kremlin that gives us any information. The last person I would ask about politics is a rockstar.

But "Elected" is one of the best music satirization of politics. That's what makes me think you're smarter than everyone else.

Well that was John Lennon's favorite song. It was one of those perfect situations where Nixon was running. Everybody hated Nixon. If you can believe this, people hated Nixon more than they hate Trump. He was just so hated, and at the same time I was hated in a different way, and so I said the idea of Alice Cooper running against Nixon is so absurd and when we wrote the song we wrote the song as a bit of a tribute to Pete Townshend with those big power chords, and it ended up being John Lennon's favorite song. John Lennon used to say "thats a great song, I love that song" he was seeing it as a political statement, I was seeing it as a joke.

I like how you these two different parts of your life, so I wanted to ask you, I don't know if you still teach Sunday School but I'm assuming you're Mr. Furnier when you teach Sunday school, but did any of the kids you taught ever grow up and figure out what you do?

No, no, no. I'm Cooper. Kids are very very hip at this point. They get it quicker than anyone else that I play to Alice Cooper. They know I play the character Alice Cooper, they heard it one time and got it. It's the parents that have a hard time with separating the two, you just want to sit there and say, "Guys, OK I don't live in a big dark castle, alright?" I wanted you to think that early on in my career but now I think everyone is pretty aware that I play this character. [laughs]

Yeah I think that everybody knows that now. That's what I kind of like about the Internet, everyone knows about Alice Cooper the golfer, Alice Cooper the husband, the philanthropist, the rockstar dad, because your kids are in bands too.

I think there is something weird about the political thing. I think that if you're Christian you're immediately conservative, I don't really believe that at all. I think there are certain things you're conservative in. I would say if anything I am more moderate than anything else.

You've gone back and forth between the blues and reds.

Yeah, I'm not an extremist on anything really.

OK, I can get down with that, and am I aloud to talk to you about the tour after this Paranormal Tour? That you and Shep are playing, you said that this other 2019 tour will be even bigger than the Paranormal Tour.

Yeah, it will be. And Shep and I are starting sit there and we'll go "You know what we're missing in this show?" [laughs] — and Shep is as crazy I am — he says "We haven't really killed this audience yet, have we?" and I went "No, lets go for it on the next tour." So you're going to really get a different, more of a "Welcome to My Nightmare" show on the next one. So sitting there going "How many more tours do we have? Let's make sure we get 'em".

Right on and I know I'm running short on time so I wanted to do two quick questions. I wanted to know about how much do you think about that day you mistakingly showed up to Frank Zappa's house at seven in the morning, I mean that was a turning point in that relationship for you, do you still think about it or is it just gone and past and doesn't even enter your mind?

[Laughs] Yeah, well I don't live in the past, I honestly don't sit around thinking about things like that, but it does seem like four lives ago, but it was a different time, but we were so excited that Frank Zappa was going to listen to us that when he told us seven, I assumed seven in the morning. I'm not sure why I would think that, it was just a stupid thing on my part and it just added to the insanity. We were in chrome clothes and makeup and the whole thing at seven in the morning and he just kind of looked at us and went "That is so weird, I don't really get you guys at all." and I said "Is that good?" and he says "The fact that I don't get you is why you're gonna get signed."

Heck yeah. And last question, you've played golf with Trump, Dan Quail, Gerald Ford. You've said there are no honest golfers on the planet Earth, who is the most dishonest golfer that you have played with? And is it yourself by any chance?

Well let me think, I could say that Michael Douglas and I played against Shep and Stephen Stills. Now, I don't know if Stephen Stills just doesn't remember or what. [Laughs] But I think it might have been a little brain damage. I'm not going to say he was the most crooked, I would just say it was some sort of early memory loss on his part. I'll give him that.

All right, well we'll give Stephen Stills that. Well I wish we can talk more, thank you for the time you did give me and I look forward to seeing you when you come down to Clearwater and then in 2019 when you guys bring it.

Come on backstage and say, hi alright?

Alright, for sure that would be awesome, I'll talk to Amy about that.

Okie doke, thanks a lot!

Perfect, have a great day thanks Coop!

About The Authors

Brendan McGinley

I am Brendan McGinley I am a writer and student at the University of South Florida, I enjoy music, baseball and the occasional craft beer. I am a New Jersey transplant who calls Florida home.

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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