Entertainment

Alice Cooper on playing golf in Biloxi and why Johnny Depp rocks the guitar

Alice Cooper returns to the Biloxi with a Friday show at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.
Alice Cooper returns to the Biloxi with a Friday show at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Courtesy

“You’re not from Biloxi, are you,” were the first words out of Alice Cooper’s mouth during a recent phone interview with the Sun Herald.

Wait. What? How did he know this? I actually live in Long Beach but we’re moving to Pass Christian. Is he psychic?

“You don’t sound like you’re from Mississippi,” Cooper said.

I swallowed my pride and thanked him and proceeded with the interview. But it is worth noting that my soul was crushed because Alice Cooper didn’t think I was from Mississippi.

For more than 40 years, Cooper has been delivering his brand of rock ’n’ roll — a mixture of glam, punk, metal and vaudeville — and Friday, he will bring his show to the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show start at $49.95 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.

In 2016, Cooper spent a week rehearsing his stage show at the Beau Rivage.

Friday’s show is one of several headlining dates he is playing with his band (guitarists Nita Strauss, Tommy Henriksen and Ryan Roxie, bassist Chuck Garric and drummer Glen Sobel) before a series of summer shows with Deep Purple and the Edgar Winter Band. He’s also planning to get into the studio again with Hollywood Vampires, which features Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry.

At 69, Cooper’s stage show is still one of the most outrageous in the industry. But off stage, he is a sober baseball fan who said he finds therapy in daily rounds of golf.

Q: You were at the Beau Rivage for a week last year — did you get in some golf at Fallen Oaks Golf Course?

A: I play every morning. It’s still a regimented thing I do. Ryan (Roxie) and Chuck (Garric) get up every morning and run or do yoga or work out. What I do every morning is play nine holes of golf on a show day or 18 holes on a day off.

I have an addictive personality so it’s a part of my daily routine now. I started playing golf when I quit drinking and doing drugs because I knew I had to find something that was going to be an addiction that wasn’t going to kill me. Golf was one of those things. The first time I played, I was addicted to it. I hit the ball right down the middle and it was so satisfying. I’ve played six days a week for the last 35 years.

Fallen Oaks is a great course. I’ve played there many times. It’s one of those courses that if you mention it, people know what it is.

Q: I’ve noticed you’ve been playing a Chuck Berry song live recently. Do you remember the first time you heard his music?

A: I can tell you exactly what it was. My uncle Vince was a left-handed guitar player and I was listening to Elvis when I was 6, 7, 8 years old. And my uncle came over one day with some 45s and said, “I want you to hear this,” and he handed me a Chuck Berry record. It was “Up in the morning and off to school,” you know — “School Days.” I immediately loved it. It wasn’t just Elvis rock, it was more of a bluesy rock — it was really, really cool.

All hard-rock bands are based on Chuck Berry — from the Beatles to the Stones to the Yardbirds to Alice Cooper — we can all trace our DNA back to Chuck Berry. He was also the best lyricist of all time. If he couldn’t think of a word, he would make one up. He would say stuff like “Don’t give me no ‘boperation.’” Listening to “Maybeline” or “Nadine” and you can picture every word he says. It’s incredible. As a lyricist, I totally get how he would set you up and deliver the punchline at the end. I guarantee you Ray Davies from The Kinks was a big Chuck Berry listener.

I met Chuck a couple of times. He was always cool but he would never let you in. Even Keith Richards — he only let him in a little bit. He let Keith know that he was still the guy. He was old school and he was just really cool.

Q: I know you’re passionate about baseball, especially the Detroit Tigers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Did you find yourself getting caught up in the nostalgia of last year’s World Series between the Cubs and the Indians?

A: Who didn’t want to see the Cubs win? I wanted them to win just for Bill Murray’s sake. I used to live in Chicago and the Cubs were always the punchline of the joke. For them to get that far — you couldn’t not be rooting for them. You had to root for them just because they were finally in the World Series. And they won it. That was a great moment in sports.

The Indians kind of have a chance to be there again, maybe every five or 10 years. The Cubs were never in that curve. The Cubs’ curve comes up once every 300 years. They had to finish it off.

Q: I’ve always been a big fan of the Detroit music scene of the late ’60s and early ’70s — Alice Cooper, The Stooges, MC5. Did you know you were a part of something so special and groundbreaking at the time?

A: Detroit was the city for hard rock — The Stooges, MC5, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent and even Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, Brownsville Station — there were so many great hard-rock bands.

We basically got run out of Los Angeles on a rail because they wanted the next Buffalo Springfield, they did not want Alice Cooper. The Doors were about as heavy as they wanted to go. We decided the next place we got a standing ovation was where we were going to move. We got a a standing ovation at a pop festival in Michigan.

Someone said Iggy and The Stooges were going on and I had never heard of them. I hadn’t heard of the MC5 — they were just local bands at the time. Iggy went on before us and I went, ‘Oh man. I finally have some competition.’ He was good. Iggy was the essence of street punk. Our show was hard rock, but we were also like a ‘Phantom of The Opera’ show.

When we went on stage, the audience loved it. Then when they found out I was from Detroit, we were accepted immediately — we were a Detroit band and we would play shows every weekend with The Stooges and the MC5. We all became great friends, Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes and Bob Seger, too. There was a real fraternity there in Detroit. It was all based on being loud hard rock with an attitude.

Q: You mentioned The Doors, who you cover with Hollywood Vampires. Do you plan on recording with them again?

A: Oh, yeah. The thing about the Vampires is that the Hollywood Vampires was a drinking club. We would meet at The Rainbow and it would be John Lennon, Keith Moon and Harry Nilsson and Micky Dolenz and myself and every single night we would show up and drink. They started calling us the Hollywood Vampires because they only saw us at night and all we would do was drink. It was the Max’s Kansas City of Los Angeles.

I was telling Johnny (Depp) this and I realized he’s a really good guitar player. So I said we should put a band together and do songs for our dead drunk friends like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. Joe Perry heard us talking and said, ‘I want in.’

What people don’t believe, but it’s true, is that Joe Perry takes lessons from Johnny Depp. That’s how good he is. He can play with anyone. He can get up and play with Guns N’ Roses or Paul McCartney — anyone. He’s a very well-respected guitar player. He’s like Keith Richards — he doesn’t play long solos but he can play a tasty little lick and get in and get out.

If you go

Alice Cooper

Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, 875 Beach Blvd. in Biloxi

8 p.m. Friday

Tickets start at $49.95 and are available at Ticketmaster.com

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