Interview: Alice Cooper on his upcoming Edinburgh gig

WhO better than Alice Cooper to put on a gig to celebrate Hallowe’en? After all, the original shock rocker has been provoking people for more than 40 years with his outrageous make-up and gory set pieces.

“What would Hallowe’en be without me anyway? I mean, I practically invented it,” says the 64-year-old, who gained worldwide fame in the 1970s for hits such as School’s Out and I’m Eighteen along with his legendary stage act.

“We’ll be playing the hits, of course, but there will also be surprises, costume competitions – so dress to excess – and as usual you never know who else might show up.”

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At the Usher Hall on Wednesday, a giant costume party is guaranteed as fans bid to outdo each other for the most ghoulish outfit, with cash prizes for the winners.

Cooper’s incredible band lead the party – featuring the three-guitar attack of Orianthi Panagaris, Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henricksen, along with the rhythm section of bassist Chuck Garric and drummer Glen Sobel – one of the great bands working in rock ’n’ roll, tearing into classics and tracks from latest album Welcome 2 My Nightmare.

It’s sure to be a whole lot of fun – not just for the fans but also for the rock legend himself, who still enjoys dressing up and going on stage.

“It’s like a release,” says the son of a Christian minister, born Vincent Damon Furnier in Detroit, Michigan. “I can be respectable, spending time with my family, and then that night I get to go on-stage and rock out. It’s great to do both.”

Asked what’s the secret to having a long career and the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee has no hesitation in answering.

“Being professional – turning up to interviews when you say you will, being polite to everyone and not letting your fans down,” he says.

Although he’s been teetotal for 30 years now, Cooper’s problems with drink and drugs almost sent him to an early grave.

“You’re so deeply entrenched in the rock and roll situation – you have hit records, and all the money you could ever need for your life, and people expect you to be in rehab, or hospital, or partying, or in jail.

“But I watched on as my friends, one at a time, died as a result of it. Some of these guys never stopped – every day was an adventure. I started to realise that either I had to stop eventually, or I would die. It was as simple as that.”

But it took a major health scare for the hellraiser to realise that he needed to curb his excessive lifestyle. “My doctor said to me, ‘You’ve got a month tops – get ready to go and meet your friends Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, because you aren’t going to last long’. That was a wake-up call.

When Cooper gave up drink and drugs he replaced it with another addiction – golf.

“I love golf... I’m addicted to it,” he laughs. “When I was younger I was addicted to other things like alcohol – now I’m addicted to healthy things.

“I’m addicted to being sober... I have to be sober. I’m also addicted to my family. I’ve never been unfaithful to my wife, not once. I’m addicted to that. It’s all about replacing the bad addictions with the good ones.”

And it seems he’s pretty handy with a set of golf clubs, too. A three-handicapper, he plays wherever he is. “When I’m in Scotland it’s a sin not to play golf,” says Cooper. “Most of the time I’m in Scotland it’s to do with rock ’n’ roll or golf.”

Alice Cooper’s Hallowe’en Night of Fear III, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, Wednesday, 7pm, £36, 0131-228 1155