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First Person

The Experience Questionnaire: Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper is a musician from Detroit and a pioneer of the shock rock movement of the 1970s. He will be on tour in North America starting in November.

Where do you come up with your best ideas?  
I get my best ideas from television, pop culture, the news. Everywhere you look there’s a great headline, and I can build a song from there. 

What is the best non-material gift you’ve received? 
Compassion — it is a gift from god. When I was hopelessly addicted to alcohol and drugs, I was shown compassion from many people but especially my wife Sheryl, and without that I would not be here today.  

What is the best non-material gift you’ve given? 
Hopefully my song lyrics. I’ve had many people say they quit drinking or avoided hurting themselves due to my lyrics.   

Everywhere you look there’s a great headline, and I can build a song from there. 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced? 
Without a doubt it was alcoholism and drug addition.   

If you had to choose a different profession, what would you do? 
I would either be a comedy writer or a script writer for films.  I always seem to come up with great ideas for movies that haven’t been done yet.   

What is the most useful mistake you’ve made?  
Criticizing another band without knowing them. In the early days of Creedence Clearwater, I knocked them in an interview and then ended up meeting them shortly afterwards. I had to explain myself and why I had said what I said. After that I learned a great lesson and became professional enough to live and let live. 

What’s the strangest experience you’ve had? 
Working with Salvador Dali for a week was the strangest thing I’ve ever done.   

What opportunity do you regret passing up? 
I remember being approached to play the part of Pennywise in the original IT film and I passed. I definitely regret that. 

How do you relax?  
I play golf every day, and I avoid stressing about anything.  

If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?   
Maui.   ​ 

What is your most indelible childhood memory? 
Seeing Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show.  It might have sparked something in my brain. Also, in high school hearing the Beatles on the radio for the first time. 

What’s the most valuable thing you learned in school? 
That girlfriends did my homework better than I ever could.   

When you’re stuck how do you get unstuck? 
Work backwards, find out where you made your mistake and fix it.  

What is your proudest moment? 
Career wise — seeing my album at number 1. In my personal life — marrying Sheryl, my wife of 43 years and fathering our 3 kids. 

What would you like to experience before you die?  
The feeling of knowing that I’ve done my last interview. 

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Photo by Uli Deck/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

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