Hey GetReligion readers: Do we have any shock rock music fans out there?
When it comes to music, I am really a fanatic about a wide range of artists — pretty much everything except highly commercialized country, dance music (various kinds with one chord over and over) and most opera. However, I never really got into the whole glam-shock rock genre.
But it’s hard not to know the name Alice Cooper. What a long, strange road that guy has walked.
So what does this have to do with religion-news coverage? If you have read anything about Cooper in the past quarter century of so, you know that — strange as if may sound — he is a born-again evangelical Christian and very vocal about it. He’s an avid golfer, too. Those two facts may not be connected.
Anyway, a GetReligion reader recently spotted this dramatic headline at USA Today: “Alice Cooper clarifies story about 'death pact' with wife Sheryl Goddard: 'We have a LIFE pact'.”
So what is this all about? Here’s the top of this short entertainment-beat story:
Alice Cooper would like to clear things up: He and wife Sheryl Goddard don't actually have a death pact.
"We have a LIFE pact. We love life so much," the 71-year-old rocker told USA TODAY in a statement.
Cooper made many a headline over the weekend following an article in the British tabloid the Daily Mirror that quotes him as saying he and his wife plan "to go together" when one of them dies, because there's "no way of surviving without each other."
"What I was meaning was that because we're almost always together, at home and on the road, that if something did happen to either of us, we'd most likely be together at the time," Cooper added to USA TODAY. "But neither of us has a suicide pact. We have a life pact."
OK, we will come back to that Daily Mirror story.
However, something important seems to be missing here, even in the short USA Today report. That story does note that they have been married since 1976 and have three adult children. That’s a long marriage, in the rock ‘n’ roll world.
Cooper also retained his sense of humor when hit with this “death pact” question, noting: "Besides, I'm booked through 2028, so ..."
My questions: Did Cooper really discuss this subject — an alleged suicide pact — without mentioning his evangelical Christian faith? Did the USA Today reporter fail to ask about that, after decades of Cooper news coverage (sample Newsweek report here) that has included the born-again angle? Did some editor really think that the faith information was irrelevant in a story about a married couple having a “death pact”?
Now, if you read the original Daily Mirror story, you’ll notice that it also avoids the rock star’s evangelical faith. However, there is one interesting reference in the tabloid-style double-decker headline:
Alice Cooper has DEATH PACT with his wife as he 'couldn't live without her'
EXCLUSIVE: Rocker Alice Cooper says 'The Lord is our glue' and has kept him and his wife Sheryl Goddard together and in love for 43 years
Wait a minute: “The Lord is our glue”? What Lord, with a big “L,” are we talking about here?
What that headline says is (a) that Cooper did talk about his faith in the Mirror interview and (b) that the journalists working on the story simply left that information out of the story. I would the odds are quite high that (c) Cooper also mentioned this “Lord” angle in the USA Today interview.
So what did Cooper — who loves to serve up provocative quotations — say that kicked off this tabloid story? Here’s the top of the Mirror report:
Shock rock king Alice Cooper made an art of terrifying audiences during his Seventies heyday.
Sticking his head in a guillotine on stage. And performing a mock hanging which nearly killed him. He was even rumoured to have slept in a coffin with a built-in stereo installed.
So when we start talking about his devoted wife of 43 years, Sheryl Goddard, it’s somehow not quite so shocking when Alice, 71, stares into my eyes and sighs: “We’ve made a pact – there is no way of surviving without each other.
“I couldn’t live without her. We always said there will never be a time when one of us will be mourning the other. Whenever it does happen, we are going to go together. …
“I’ve been married 43 years to the greatest girl in the world. We have never cheated on each other.”
There is quite a bit of interesting material in this long story, such as the fact that Cooper’s mother is 96 years old and is convinced his DNA is solid. At 71, his weight is the same as when he was 30 and he avoids sugar. He hasn’t had a drink of alcohol in 37 years and he no longer smokes. His legendary cocaine habit is decades in the rear mirror.
Yes, he’s still in the Hollywood Vampires side-gig, with with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, 68, and actor Johnny Depp, 56. That informal band was named, long ago, after a drinking club for music legends like John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Keith Moon. Cooper still keeps up with other musicians from his generation.
But what makes his way of life and his marriage rather unique?
I guess his faith wasn’t relevant to this story. Strange, that.