Tennessean

Originally Published: January 28, 2000

Shock Rocker says Gill could be nightmarish

Author: Rick de Yampert

A new Vince Gill album titled Welcome to My High Lonesome Nightmare?

At least one person believes Gill, the country star with such hit albums as I Still Believe In You and High Lonesome Sound, could pull it off: his friend and golfing buddy Alice Cooper.

That's the same Alice Cooper whose albums in the 1970s such works as Welcome to My Nightmare and Alice Cooper Goes to Hell established him as the Godfather of Shock Rock. In those days, when Marilyn Manson and gangsta rappers were mere tykes stumbling around in Pampers, Cooper was running amok on concert stages. While his band tossed out slabs of sonic concrete, the macabre Cooper dressed in ghoulish face paint, staged mock executions, dismembered dolls and cavorted with a live boa constrictor.

"I've known Vinny for a long time, and I play golf with Vinny," Cooper said during a phone interview last week, prior to arriving in Nashville to play today in The Vinny, Gill's pro-celebrity golf tournament at the Golf Club of Tennessee in Kingston Springs.

The rocker just happened to have a two-day break in his current, international Alice Cooper's Rock 'n' Roll Carnival tour. Thus he'll be able to match tee shots and putts with singer-guitarist Gill and other celebs: singer Amy Grant, actor Richard (Shaft) Roundtree, comedian-actor George (Goober) Lindsey, and country stars Glen Campbell, Suzy Bogguss and others.

"I've seen Vince at a bunch of different things," Cooper said impishly. "If he didn't have country-western records out ..."

Cooper didn't spill the beans about what sort of shenanigans he has witnessed from Gill. But, the rocker added, "Vince is a rock-and-roller all the way. He can play! I guarantee you Vince can come up and sit in with us and play any one of our songs. He would have no problems at all."

From his vantage point as the pioneer of shock rock, the 50-year-old Cooper (given name Vincent Furnier) noted that today's extreme pop music acts Marilyn Manson, death metal bands, gangsta rappers "have upped the ante. Society has upped the ante. Things are more permissive now than what they used to be.

"I put necessary boundaries on it. People have to remember that when Alice hit, all we did was suggest sensationalism, and we got in trouble. People now are doing everything that we suggested, plus it's very acceptable.

"But that doesn't make me go, 'Gee, now I've got to be nastier.' I've always said if you have to swear or use nudity on stage, that means you're not clever enough to do it the real way."

For his current tour, Cooper is having fun "going really low-tech. I like the idea that my roadies build our props. If I say I need a toy box and one of those things from the carnival where the guy hits the hammer and the bell goes off, and I need a sarcophagus I can escape from, three weeks later it's all built.

"And on top of that, the same guys who built that stuff play clowns in the show," he continued. "The show is more theatrical than it's been in 20 years. I think it's easy to buy pyrotechnics. Anybody can go out and buy explosions. But to put on a show where the lyrics come to life and really make the audience go, 'Wow, how did they do that?!' That to me is good show biz."

As for his golf game, Cooper said he has a quite-respectable five handicap, and he's finished in the money in his last three pro-celebrity tournaments.

As for his competitive streak: "Tell them (his competitors in The Vinny) to be very careful," Cooper said. "I never know where the snake is going to end up. It could be in anybody's bag."