This week has been a tough one. Death is an interesting thing. While it physically separates us from the person we’ve lost, we rest assured knowing that those who know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will no longer suffer and are renewed with our Father in Heaven, but it goes a little further than that. Funerals (and weddings) often bring families together in the process. We come together and share stories. Tell jokes. Remember the good while doing our best to forgive and forget the bad. This week my uncle, a good man that loved the Lord, went home to meet his Heavenly Father. As I traveled from Florida to Kentucky, I thought about the many memories my family holds dear in our hearts. Memories of holidays and special occasions spent with Uncle Leslie and the rest of the family. Times when nothing else really mattered – just fellowship and enjoyment with those we love. It’s a bittersweet pill – death is. But it’s one that brings clarity and motivation if you allow it. It drives you to ask questions like, “Am I spending my time wisely here on Earth?” and “Is there more I could be doing?” Questions that, if you’re willing, can bring transparency and perspective.
During the drive home, it occurred that this week would be a great week to discuss Alice’s 2007 autobiography, “Alice Cooper, Golf Monster: A Rock ‘n’ Roller’s Life and 12 Steps To Becoming A Golf Addict“. I had read this book many years ago (probably back when it first came out). I owned the hardcover version and remembered enjoying it. However, I have to be honest; I’m not sure why, but I didn’t remember most of the content. I may have skipped over some chapters or didn’t pay much attention to the golf tips or specific periods of his life. I can’t quite put my finger on why my mind blocked some of the information out. However, what I do remember is my curiosity about his faith and what he had to say about it. Those feelings and revelations came flooding back. Like the first time I read it, those things impressed me. Alice is the real deal.
Since this blog began, I had known that we would talk about this book, but I wasn’t sure when. It’s odd how things unfold and fit together. This was the perfect time to not only read Alice’s book but actually have him read the book to me. If you spend any amounts of time traveling to and fro in a vehicle, do yourself a favor. Check out Amazon’s Audible.com. Audiobooks are great ways to fill wasted time (like driving) with purpose and meaning. In this particular instance, Alice was riding shotgun with me and my Labrador Retriever, Abby, reading to us his biographical tale. Both she and I listened intently as he told his story.
Now I’m not going to lie. Audiobooks are either intriguing or boring. And it’s usually not the content’s fault. No one picks out a book and says, “this does NOT seem like a good book; let’s take a listen.” You are initially interested and want to know what the book is about. However, it’s the reader that makes or breaks the book. In this case, it was Alice reading his book, and Alice is a born performer. In this case, he doesn’t just read the book. He performs the book. It was a pleasant surprise. If you know or have learned anything about some key players in the Alice Cooper world and story, you will know who Shep Gordon and Bob Ezrin are. Alice does not just quote these guys when he reads – he plays the part. When he mimicked Shep using his impression of Shep’s voice, I would have thought that was actually Gordon reading the text. All of this to say, if you get the chance to listen. It’s well worth it, and in this case, it made 4.5 hours worth of driving an enjoyable experience.
If you haven’t read or listened to “Golf Monster,” you should know what to expect. Alice skillfully weaves together his life, his career, his faith, and other interesting tidbits about the musical world and specific eras – all while giving a few helpful golf tips and advice about the game from a technical and general perspective. And for the record, I’m not a golfer. However, after listening to him talk about the game, I just might take it up. So, with each self-help step of becoming a golf addict, Alice also tells his story. And it’s a roller coaster of a story.
There are no real specifics from his life to share or tell you about. That’s something you should experience for yourself as you read or listen to the book. However, there are three (although there are many more) distinct talking points that sort of jumped out at me as I listened to the book. Those points being perseverance, identity, and demons. The rest of this post will focus on those.
From the beginning, the Alice Cooper group and Alice, himself, decided they were not going to give up. Being cross country runners, maybe they were programmed for the long haul. The endurance and stamina to run the race. As the Earwigs (the original name of the band), Alice admits that the group was awful. However, through determination and rehearsal, they made small strides that would continually propel them to the next phase – from a talent show performance-to-playing lunch hours at school-to-the house band at the school dance-to-actual paying gigs at local venues. But with each new step, they would have to dig a little deeper and push a little harder. But with that perseverance and drive, they would soon find out who they were. Their identity would soon be revealed.
You can literally find thousands of books and self-help guides that focus on perseverance alone. However, persistence in the name of Jesus Christ is more than merely holding on until the end. It’s a commitment to finding that target and mark that He’s given you. Finding out what it is that He has entrusted you with — then seeking and asking Him to guide that endeavor with full abandonment. Knowing that as you persevere in His name, your needs will be met (Matthew 6:33, 2 Corinthians 9:8). It’s an often bumpy road – one filled with hiccups, hurdles, trial, and error. No one gets it all right and perfectly carries out His Will. However, the more you lean on Him and His understanding, the more clarity and determination you will be given. It’s as if He gives you the ability to set the cruise control at certain times on your journey. But it’s not a set and forget sorta thing; it’s one of those endeavors where God sets the speed but requires your hands to stay on the wheel and for you to remain awake in the process. Falling asleep at the spiritual wheel can be just as deadly as the physical one. We must pay attention as we persevere in His name.
After moving to L.A. and playing some shows and festivals, it became evident fairly quickly that the Alice Cooper band had been branded a “shock-based” group with hints of experimentation, psychedelic influences, and a crazy stage show, but there was no real identity. Frank Zappa and Shep Gordon had done an excellent job giving the band a platform and venues to play, but there was no definition. Nothing that made them memorable enough to capture and maintain a base or lasting presence. Enter Bob Ezrin. With the help of Ezrin’s direction and fine-tuning, the music and style of Alice Cooper were “deconstructed” and rebuilt. If you go back and listen to the difference between Alice’s voice and the cohesiveness of the band on the first two albums, “Pretties For You” and “Easy Action,” versus those same elements on “Love It To Death” and virtually every album since then, you basically hear two very different groups of musicians. Ezrin first helped define Alice’s signature voice. The soft whispers. The loud sneers. The growls. The snarls. Next, Ezrin had the band focus on their instruments. They were essentially asked to “unlearn everything” they knew and “relearn it better.” The band’s willingness to allow Ezrin to shape and define them led them to the next level and a definitive identity. An identity and persona that would indefinitely represent Alice Cooper.
Once you’ve accepted Christ, you will notice your life is forever changed. You are no longer identified by the things of this world. You still play a role, and you may be known for what it is that you do, but it does NOT identify you. We are defined instead by Him and His Word. We are his children (1 John 3:1-2), reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18), righteous (Romans 6:18-22, Ephesians 4:24), a Light in this world (Matthew 5:14), redeemed (Ephesians 1:6-8), justified (Romans 5:1), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and so much more. Identity is an interesting puzzle. Many people spend their entire lives trying to figure out who and what they are. However, once you come to know Him, that is all perfectly spelled out in His Word. You are automatically identified and defined through Him. What’s not entirely or automatically evident is what it is He has planned for you to do. For that, you must seek out His Will.
There is no secret about Alice’s bouts with alcohol. The same demon that has haunted so many musicians, stars, and many average everyday members of society, snagged him as well. Alice admits that alcohol became medicine. It became that crutch that propped him up, helped him prepare for the show, helped him get up in the morning, helped him to bed at night. Alcohol was carrying him. He had been convinced by this demon that everything would be alright. As if the bottle would whisper to him, “As long as I’m nearby, you’ll get through this.” Like any demon, the one that whispered to and gripped Alice was a liar. After battling rigorously and the threat of Sheryl and himself ending their marriage, he was miraculously healed. He states in the book, “By September 28, 1983, I had beaten my demon.”
Life is a constant battle. Even after battling one demon, another is waiting on deck. The enemy wants nothing more than to keep us preoccupied and unfocused on God’s Word. Would the world be in such a depressive or failing state if we were all functioning according to the Holy Spirit’s purposes? Instead, the enemy does his best to keep us distracted. It’s those little things like money, routine, the news, work, and even ourselves that keep us from fully knowing and experiencing His best for us. And while there’s nothing demonic or inherently evil about any of those things, don’t believe for one second that the enemy can’t use them to keep us distracted. What seems most appropriate is scheduling time for God, making Him a priority. But don’t be surprised when you start to see events and reasons to keep you from taking that scheduled time for Him. It takes discipline and strength to keep that up. As Alice would say, “In order to successfully defeat those demons, you have to keep hitting the ball, no matter how painful…” Perseverance and identity go a long way when fighting and battling with the demons in your life. And as you win more and more victories against them, you begin to find your life and His Will aligning more and more with one another. Your priorities are shifted by Him. Again using Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Wrapping this up, this week has been a tough one. We take comfort in knowing Christ through His Spirit and leaning upon Him during times of grief and struggle. As we endure this life, we do not always understand why certain events or circumstances unfold the way they do, yet we push on knowing His plans are perfect (Psalm 18:30). What makes no sense in this life, lines up perfectly with the next and His Kingdom here on Earth (John 18). As we push forward, we must learn to persevere, find our identities through Him, and defeat the demons that haunt us. But we must also learn to place Him as our first and foremost priority as we journey. For it’s through striving to replace our character with His character (Matthew 5:48) and seeking His Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33) that we find purpose and meaning. Those that earnestly seek Him and ask Him in will forever find Him dwelling within their hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).
In conclusion, Alice is faithful to his calling. He is who God created him to be. Listening to him recount his story is compelling. One of the really cool aspects of an audiobook (especially one where the author narrates), is the demeanor, tone, and emotion found in the narrator’s voice. It’s as if you could actually see Alice’s face as he told stories about Groucho Marx, Elvis Presley, his addictions, his transformation, and other events in his life. Not to mention some pretty cool golf advice (I’m serious about the golf stuff – my interest is now peaked). But as we continue on this journey with Alice, there should be no question at this point about who this man is. Someone that loves the Lord, and is earnestly asking for the Holy Spirit to guide his journey. What more can be asked of him?
That’s it for this week. Be well, and we will see you next Friday.
In the meantime, Keep Walkin’ in Faith and Rockin’ with Alice.
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