Alice Cooper: You Ask The Questions

(Such as: so, don't you feel silly singing 'I'm Eighteen' now that you're 55? And what do you wear when you're playing a round of golf?)
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The Independent Online

Alice Cooper, was born Vincent Furnier in Detroit, Michigan. He is known as much for his stage props - live snakes, electric chairs and guillotines - as for songs such as "I'm Eighteen", "School's Out", "No More Mr Nice Guy" and "Poison". And he reportedly killed a chicken while on stage in Toronto. Once pledging to "drive a stake through the heart of the love generation", he is now a golf enthusiast and committed Christian. He has also made cameo appearances in The Muppets, Celebrity Squares and Wayne's World. The 55-year-old singer lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife, Sheryl, and has three children, Calico, Dashiell and Sonora Rose.

Do you ever swap make-up tips with other eyeliner-wearing rock stars, such as Keith Richards or Bob Dylan? And what would you recommend for the effective removal of eyeliner?
Victoria Winter, by e-mail

Stick with theatrical grease paint. It's so easy to wipe it off at the end of a show. Use a hot rag. Eyeliner takes forever. If I ever went out with Keith Richards or Marilyn Manson, there might be some make-up swapping.

Would you let a TV crew film your life, as Ozzy Osbourne did? If so, what would surprise us about the Cooper household?
Ollie Baker, Bristol

When you are a public figure, you give up so much of your public life; the only place you have left is home. So I would shy away from it myself. But I think it is fun because the Osbournes are naturally funny. My family is funny in a whole different way. We are much more Monty Python - a little bit darker.

Tommy Cooper died on stage. Would you like to go the same way?
Harry Sanderson, Bedford

Yes, but I would look awful in a fez. For 35 years, I've been most at home on stage, but I wouldn't want to die in the middle of a bad joke.

What do you wear while playing a round of golf?
Elizabeth McArdell, Poole

I try to stay in black and look dangerous and villainous, even on the golf course. It's hard in Arizona when it's 110 degrees.

When my Gran saw you on Top of the Pops in the Seventies she said you must be on drugs. Was she right?
Roger Brewster, by e-mail

No, but I used to drink. I was very good at it. At that time, we used to come over to Britain and we would sit down with The Who and see who was going to fall over first. We drank a lot. I always thought it was a little safer than drugs. I quit 22 years ago, but I did have my drinking career; I was the Dean Martin of rock'n'roll.

Once, you and Alice Cooper were almost inseparable. Now, you refer to your stage persona in the third person. What caused the split?
Charles Varney, Birmingham

People who have tried to live their character have died trying to do it - Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Keith Moon. All these people were larger than life off stage - I knew them all - and they burnt out, fast. So I separated Alice and myself a long time ago. When I'm becoming Alice for a show in Britain, I really look forward to it. But don't expect to see that character walking down New Bond Street if I'm out shopping.

Alice, did you kill that chicken?
Gerry Clarke, London

I plead innocent. Somebody threw a chicken on to the stage from the audience in Toronto. I took it and threw it back, thinking it would fly, to be honest. Then the audience tore it to pieces. The next day, it was: "Alice Cooper Kills Chicken". But I've never hurt an animal, ever. I've hurt some band members, but then I guess they are animals.

Our Prime Minister, Tony Blair, used to play guitar in a band called Ugly Rumours. Any chance of you inviting him on stage to jam on "No More Mr Nice Guy" or, perhaps more appropriately, "Why Trust You"?
Peter Trustram, Chertsey

I've got to be honest with you: I like Tony Blair. I'm a very big Tony Blair fan. I'm not going to get political, but I think he did the right thing. I would invite him on stage anytime - but he'd have to wear make-up.

I understand that you are a devoted father. If so, why do you pretend to behead your daughter on stage?
Tom Hanmer, London

Well, I don't really behead her. She plays Britney Spears at the time. Anybody on my stage that is playing a character realises they are playing a character. So when my daughter is playing Britney, she realises that everybody out there wants to see Alice Cooper behead Britney. It's actually very painless. My daughter is an actress. On stage, I don't look at her as my daughter - she's an actress and that's it.

Why have you got a girl's name?
Sam Granger, Hertford

The oldest question of all time. Originally, it was to annoy every parent in the whole world. It worked. Now I think when you hear Alice Cooper, nobody associates it with a girl's name. You will probably see more guys in this generation called Alice. I'm sure some were conceived during Alice Cooper concerts - or certainly during Alice Cooper albums.

We know all about your teenage angst. But what makes you angsty now?
Donna Maxwell, Glasgow

I think all of us never grow out of a certain angst. All of us still feel alienated at times. We feel the whole world is against us, that we're loners. You think that once you're past your teenage years your angst is all gone. I don't believe that. I still get those feelings.

"Only the Good Die Young"? Discuss.
Barbara Shelford, Liverpool

I don't believe that. Only the reckless die young. I'm not saying that Jim Morrison or Keith Moon are bad, just that they treated themselves badly. Usually the good are so careful that they don't die young. I'd have been right there with them, if I hadn't got hold of myself 22 years ago. I was on that road too.

What are your fondest memories from the early days of Alice Cooper?
Gary Edwards, by e-mail

The fact that we were never supposed to make it, even to the front door, let alone open the door and take over. Having Number One records was an amazing miracle. We were in the right place, at the right time. We scratched an itch in rock'n'roll when it was getting boring. We provided something that was new, exciting and fun. Part of the fun was being the outcast. We were always shocking people. My fondest memory is when we were starving with the band - when we had to steal food to feed the band. Some people say they are the worst times. Well, when you are living in a big house - with all these cars - then you look back, and you say, "Those were the fondest times."

How do you feel about the rise of the manufactured "rock rebel" such as Avril Lavigne, or have rebels always been fake?
Steve Papper, Cheltenham

I don't think rebellion is fake. Once the rebel gets a recording contract, they get homogenised. You get blended in with the rest of the rock crew. All of a sudden, you are doing things you never thought you would be doing - like a television talk show. But they all start out as rebels.

Do you ever feel a bit silly when singing "I'm Eighteen" nowadays?
Neil Palmer, Haywards Heath

It would be silly if I was singing it, but Alice is timeless. Alice doesn't have an age. When Alice is on stage, he's not 55 like me. Alice is as vital now as he was in 1972.

Alice Cooper plays UK Civic Hall, Wolverhampton (3 July); Guildfest, Guildford (4 July); The Docks, Liverpool (6 July)