In Print: Alice Cooper, Golf Monster

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SHOCK-ROCK GOLFER | Cooper’s memoirs incorporate golf advice

For whatever reason, one of the vivid memories from my childhood is witnessing a heated debate between the older brother of one my best friends and another teenager from the neighborhood – they were probably 16 or so, and I think I was 9 or 10 at the time – about Alice Cooper.

One argued that there was a band called “Alice Cooper.” But not a singer by that name. “There IS no Alice Cooper, the person…there’s just the band,” he said. The other argued that Alice Cooper was a real person who fronted a band. “It’s not his real name,” he said, “but the guy who sings is called Alice Cooper.”

I was somewhat familiar with Alice Cooper, who, when this conversation took place, was a band, not a person. (The band broke up in the early 1970s; lead singer Vincent Furnier embarked on a solo career and legally changed his name to Alice Cooper in 1974.) When this debate took place, Alice Cooper’s teen anthems “Eighteen” (which came out in 1970) and “School’s Out” (1972) were well known, as were the band’s shock-rock theatrics.

I knew the songs. But I wasn’t a fan. Even so, the whole “Alice” name thing really made an impression upon me. It wasn’t so much that a man would call himself Alice, but rather the ambiguity of whether the name referred to the singer or the band. As a kid whose favorite musical acts at the time were Cat Stevens (a Greek Cypriot who changed his name from Steven Georgiou Demetri…and is now known, incidentally, as Yusuf Islam) and Three Dog Night, the question of how musical acts are named and the whole Alice the Band vs. Alice the Man question rented way too much space in my head for a few days.

I don’t remember who won the debate, but it doesn’t matter because both were right. We had Alice the band, and today, we have Alice the man, and that man is a golf nut. His new book, “Alice Cooper, Golf Monster: A Rock ‘n’ Roller’s 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf Addict” is part memoir and part advice tome to people who, like Alice, want to develop an addiction to golf.

It’s an interesting read, at least the historical parts. Interspersed with a truly fascinating autobiographical look at Cooper’s musical development are 12 sections – akin to a 12-Step Program – for becoming a golf addict. For those familar with Cooper’s story, it was only an addiction to golf saved his life and allowed him to cure a dependence on alcohol that was legendary. The son of a lay minister, Cooper always saw his act as just that…an act…but over time some of the demons he sang about caught up to him. Rehab, golf and a return to the Christian faith of his youth brought him out of alcoholism; today, at 60, he still writes and performs, still tours and is a staple of the celebrity pro-am golf circuit.

Non-golfers won’t appreciate the golf parts, and as a golfer myself, I found those sections a bit tedious and boring. But the rest of the book, which addresses an incredible 40-plus years in rock and rock and the amazing influence Cooper had on other acts (not to mention his friendships with a bizarre cross-section of celebrities), is pretty good. One reviewer wrote that having both the golf and the music portions in one book made both of them come out “half-baked,” and that’s pretty true…I wished there was more detail about his musical career and his thoughts about his influences on others.

But there’s enough there to make you appreciate his contributions to the rock world and the golf world, whether or not you like his music.

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