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ALICE COOPER - Says He Was A Functional Alcoholic
ALICE COOPER was a guest on the Australian show "Enough Rope with Andrew
Denton" Monday night (June 20). A few excerpts from the interview follow:
Andrew Denton: And could yet be again. You basically invented shock rock,
and your stage show is legendary for its success. What's the most over the
top thing you've done on stage?
Alice Cooper: When you do my kind of show, there's a lot of "Spinal Tap"
moments, things that are supposed to do this but don't do that. I had a
giant cannon. They decided they would shoot Alice across the stage in a
cannon. The cannon was massive. It was from there to here. In rehearsal,
it worked great. They'd put me in, I would get out, they'd put the dummy
in and of course they'd shoot the dummy across, then I would come out. Well,
it looked great. We got in front of about 20,000 people, I get in, the cannon
goes off, and the dummy comes out about that far and just lays there. It's
an obvious dummy. We sold the cannon the next day to the Stones, and they
used it for something entirely inappropriate.
Andrew Denton: The thing is, over the years, particularly in the '70s, people
reacted with outrage to you. In England they banned your stuff, members
of parliament were up in arms.
Alice Cooper: It was so easy to shock an audience in the '70s. If your name
was Alice and you wore a snake around your neck and you looked like something
that crawled up out of hell somewhere and you were singing "School's Out"
or "I Love the Dead" or all this stuff and you were cutting your head off,
the British didn't quite get that. I don't know why, call me old-fashioned,
I don't know what it is.
Now, on a serious note, CNN is pretty hard to beat on a shock level. If
I watch CNN and there's a guy really getting his head cut off, then the
guillotine loses its impact as shock and now it's for entertainment. Now,
when you see the show, my show, it's much more you go there because it's
some kind of odd, bizarre, burlesque, Cirque du Soleil rock and roll show
that's so weird but it's fun. Really, I don't think shock rock really exists
anymore. I don't really think you can shock an audience.
Andrew Denton: I want to come back to that, but you just skipped over something
there. Why was it that you were drinking so heavily? Because I know you
went to shrinks to deal with those sorts of demons. What was driving that?
Alice Cooper: You know you're a kid and you see THE BEATLES and the ROLLING
STONES, and you're 16 and you're going, "Oh, man. I want to have a great
big giant house and I want to have a model girlfriend and a Rolls Royce
and I want to be an alcoholic and I want to..." Hang on, let's reel that
back. You never see the alcohol coming and you never see the drugs coming.
You're going in this upward direction, upward direction, upward direction,
and all of a sudden, bam, you get hit by this thing that was just sort of
like casual. Pretty soon that beer that was just for fun is now medicine.
Andrew Denton: And when did you realise "This has gone too far"?
Alice Cooper: It was at a point way... I was in the middle of the "Welcome
to My Nightmare" tour. There were still eight months to go on the tour.
I'd already been out for a year on this tour and I knew I was really deep.
I was throwing up blood in the morning, which is okay on stage but when
it's just the Holiday Inn maid seeing it, it loses its impact.
Andrew Denton: And she never asks for an encore.
Alice Cooper: No, she just went, "Oh, he's throwing up blood again." That's
when you realise there's something really wrong going on inside, and you
can't stop. You're in the middle of a tour so you have to keep doing it.
Andrew Denton: So you could have easily gone down the path that Jim Morrison
and Keith Moon and those guys did?
Alice Cooper: Absolutely. I think the doctor said I had about six months.
When he finally checked me out, he said, "You are..." The thing about it
was I was a totally functional alcoholic. I could go drink a bottle a day,
never slur a word, never stumble, never miss an interview, never miss a
show, and nobody knew I was drinking that much.
Andrew Denton: How did you feel?
Alice Cooper: I felt pretty good, actually, but inside I was... Internally,
I knew there was something wrong. There's always that inward knowing that
you're dying. It may look good on the outside, but something's really going
on wrong in there, and yet you have eight more months to go and you can't
stop this tour, it's too big of a train rolling.
Read the rest of the transcript at this location.