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Alice Cooper’s life no longer a nightmare

Alice Cooper is humbled by his induction earlier this year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He’s also relieved.

Cooper’s fans, who have championed him for the Hall of Fame since the Cleveland landmark opened in 1986, finally are satisfied.

“Every day, three times a day, I would have to hear ‘How come you’re not in the Hall of Fame?’ ” says Cooper, who performs on Friday at Stage AE, North Shore. “There’s no answer to that question. I don’t know how they work it. It’s not by popularity. They decide when you’re going to get nominated. And honestly, it’s weird; once you get in, you start thinking ‘How come Deep Purple’s not in• How come the Moody Blues aren’t in?’ You start thinking about the list of people who aren’t in the hall.”

Cooper’s honor is in part a testament to his staying power and his ability to create a character (he was born Vincent Damon Furnier in Detroit in 1948) who transcends music. Cooper’s stage shows use Grand-Guignol theatrics wed to an aesthetic that pays homage to Vincent Price by way of Edgar Allen Poe.

Here’s the thing about Cooper that oft-times is overlooked: He’s an excellent songwriter, as evidenced by “Eighteen,” “School’s Out,” “Under My Wheels,” “Elected” and “Only Women Bleed.”

But far too many people view him through the prism of his fantastic, albeit gory, stage productions.

“I started getting recognition when (Bob) Dylan mentioned that I was an underrated songwriter,” Cooper says, noting that John Lennon also was a fan of his work. “When you get people like that mentioning your name, then, all of a sudden you start getting recognition from everybody. But you’re right: There’s so much sensationalism in the stage show, people forget to listen to the music. I look at it this way: If you don’t have the cake, you can’t put the icing on it. If we had a 10-hour rehearsal, nine hours was on the music, and one hour was on the theatrics, because the theatrics came pretty easy.”

The goal, Cooper says, always was to fashion a group “as good as, or at least able to be on the same stage as, Led Zeppelin or Thin Lizzy or any of the great rock bands.” He credits producer Bob Ezrin — who is currently working with Cooper on “Welcome 2 My Nightmare,” a sequel to his 1975 release “Welcome to My Nightmare” — with drilling his band endlessly until the music was sharp and lean.

“He wouldn’t let us get away with putting filler in a song,” Cooper says. “He wouldn’t let us get away with riffing a song. He’d say, ‘You gotta have a verse, a B section, a chorus, a bridge, and every one of those parts has to be something you can sit down at a piano and sing.’ He really turned us into good players and songwriters.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would seem to be the ultimate reward, but Cooper has his eye on another iconic destination: Broadway. If Green Day and The Who can mount successful, theatrical productions, why can’t he?

“I think that will happen,” Cooper says. “I think when people start looking around for what else is viable for Broadway, I think they’ll realize the Alice story is a great story: the alcoholism, coming up from being the most-hated band in L.A. to being the most-beloved band in metal. And then, 50 years from now, somebody playing Alice is fine with me. I always created him as a character who anyone could play. Not that anyone could play him really well; I think you have to understand Alice in order to play him, but I could see somebody else playing me, playing the character I created. I just happen to play him better than anyone else right now.”

‘He’s Eighteen … holes a day’

Alice Cooper admits he’s helpless against his latest addiction.

But unlike kicking alcohol, Cooper has no plans to quit his current dependence. Golf is Alice Cooper’s passion; 18 holes a day keeps away any and all of the past demons that had a deleterious effect on his health.

“It’s the most addicting thing that was ever invented,” he says. “If you hit two good shots in a round, you feel like you’re ready to play on TV. Lord help you if you hit four good shots. It just keeps feeding itself.”

Cooper plays more than 300 rounds per year. At home in Arizona, he’s up before first light on most days and playing at 6 a.m. When he’s touring, he’s often picked up at his hotel by a representative from Callaway Golf (Cooper serves on the golf-equipment manufacturer’s advisory board) for a round at a local course.

“If we play 100 cities around the world on a tour, I’ll be out golfing about 75 times,” he says, noting he’s played courses in Moscow, Perth and Istanbul.

When he was growing up in Detroit, Cooper says he spent a few summers in Uniontown, Fayette County, where his family had relatives. While he wasn’t into the sport then, his affection for the region returns when he golfs in Pennsylvania.

“There’s not too many things better than golfing in Pennsylvania in October,” Cooper says, noting he has played Oakmont Country Club. “It’s as good as anything anywhere.”

Rege Behe

Alice amusements

Alice Cooper is inviting theme park visitors into his nightmares this Halloween season.

Universal Studios Hollywood announced plans last week to construct an attraction based on the macabre rocker’s album “Welcome to My Nightmare,” and its upcoming sequel “Welcome 2 My Nightmare.”

“We’ll be creating this living horror movie within screaming distance of the sound stages where horror movies first began, so there’s no place more appropriate to offer a preview of the new ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare,’ ” Cooper said in a statement. “This will be a nightmare that will haunt visitors’ dreams for a long time to come.”

The maze will feature Cooper’s music and “guillotine decapitations, electric chairs, a sadistic insane asylum, predatory snake and giant black widow spiders.”

“If you’re lucky, you just might make it out alive,” Cooper teased in an online video. “But I doubt it.”

The walk-through experience will be part of the theme park’s annual “Halloween Horror Nights” event, which begins on Sept. 23 and continues on select nights through Oct. 31.

Associated Press

Additional Information:

At a glance

Alice Cooper

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Admission: $30

Where: Stage AE (outside), North Shore

Details: 800-745-3000, www.promowestlive.com .


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