Alice Cooper Wishes He Hadn’t Quit Playing Guitar
Alice Cooper has enjoyed one of the more distinguished musical careers of the rock era, but he isn’t without regrets — such as giving up the guitar, something he pokes fun at himself for in a new series of ad spots for Fretlight guitars.
“[I'm] playing the therapist talking to a guy and I’m saying, ‘So, you play around with guitars and you told your girlfriend that you’re a guitar player?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah.’ And I say, ‘Well, you’re probably trying to write love songs and you can’t write a love song without a guitar.’ So I’m really embarrassing him into playing guitar again,” Cooper laughed when discussing the campaign with Rolling Stone. “And all of the characters coming in are people that started playing and quit playing for one reason or another, and me being just so sarcastic and cynical about them getting back into guitar.”
Cooper put down his own axe, he says, because “I started playing guitar when I was like twenty, twenty-one and I was in a band where I had two guitars that were just great and it really didn’t matter to me, I really was a non-existent force in the guitar world.” Over time, he pointed out, “I’ve always totally surrounded myself with really accomplished guitarists, there was no reason for me to play. So I wish I would’ve continued on guitar, but I spent much more time on the lyrics and the character. So, to me, I was a bit of a quitter.”
One thing that isn’t so easy to quit is embodying the character of Alice Cooper, and as he admitted during his RS chat, that’s an experience he shares with his current tourmate Marilyn Manson. “We both created a couple of monster characters and then what we kind of talked about on my radio show is how do you deal with that character against your real life? And sometimes that character being the fact that it’s so overpowering, does it ever take over?”
For Cooper, the answer was nearly yes. “My idea was that rock needed a consummate villain and I would be more than happy to create that villain. I thought I had to be that character all the time and it nearly killed me,” he recalled. “I’m trying to drink with Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix and those guys, and they’re professionals, and I’m like 18 years old, it nearly killed me. That’s when I realized I have to allow myself to be me and then I really appreciate playing the character of Alice.”