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Originally Published: August 09, 1997
Alice Cooper--that top dog of shock rock, the guy with the onstage guillotine and electric chair - is an active Christian now.
No, he's not a "Christian rock artist" and he's quick to make that distinction, to separate himself from Petra or DC Talk or others who have made spiritual music with a rock beat.
But the 49-year-old Detroit native will tell you, unabashedly, that he is now a rock artist who's Christian.
Cooper is on tour, supporting the new "AFOA" (Guardian). The album features live cuts from last summer's tour, including songs from 1994's "The Last Temptation of Alice Cooper"--an album that subtly revealed the stirrings of Cooper's conversion.
"I'm not up on stage preaching. I still do "SO" and "18", " says the Arizona resident who was born Vincent Furnier. "I don't see why a Christian can't be a rock n' roller and have a real high-energy show."
Cooper's dad, the late Ether Moroni Furnier, was an ordained Baptist minister. In his introduction to Cooper's 1976 autobiography "Me, Alice", he lamented that his son had "drifted away from church attendance altogether." He continued, "Am I dreaming, or suffering from wishful thinking that after all this decadence there will emerge from this dynamic personality a servant of God...?"
In finding his new path, Cooper says, he "had to get rid of the alcoholism that was really crushing me." Then there was a little matter of reconciling his public persona with his newfound ideals.
"Sure, it was tough," he says. "But at the same time, I don't think I am doing anything offensive to the Christians. I don't find anything offensive about these songs. The theatrics that go on with our shows have always been RKO horror movies."
"When you can't be more shocking that CNN, it's time to not do it anymore. In the '70s it was easier to shock people."
Early this year Cooper helped out Detroit's most infamous young act, rap group Insane Clown Posse, intoning an introduction to the "The Great Milenko", a profanity-laced album that Disney recalled from stores.
Cooper, who met the duo just once, says he was paid for simply reciting a few lines.
"I had no idea what the album was about," he says. "I certainly didn't know it was going to be controversial. But you know how I shun controversy, of course."
So he pleads pure coincidence when describing the theme of his new tour and onstage production, Alice Carnival 1997---and not featuring ICP. (No Denver date has been announced.) "It may look like they're onstage when you see our clownage."
And he reassures longtime fans:
"This show is absolutely Alice Cooperesque all the way. Just know that Alice Cooper has never been a cult or satanic. We've always been a sideshow, and we always had a certain amount of wholesomeness to it. People have always walked away saying 'This is a great party!'"