Alice Cooper Golf Monster Book Review

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Alice Cooper, Golf Monster: A Rock ‘n’ Roller’s 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf Addict

 

Grade: A
Teacher’s Comments: A literary first. The autobiography of a rock star and how golf saves his life.

 

I have never been a fan of Alice Cooper’s music (in fact, I wouldn’t recognize it if it came on the radio). When I was in high school —and he in his heyday – I was listening to an eclectic list of artists that included Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra and the Allman Brothers. My friends listened to Cooper, though, and thought my tastes just more evidence of my oddness.

That said, it is a tribute to the book that – after reading it – I want to go back and listen to some of his “classic” works.

In many ways, Golf Monster is a standard autobiography. Cooper begins with his birth and childhood in Detroit, and takes the reader through several family moves which resulted in his high school years in Arizona, where he became a track star and began his musical career.

At that point, it becomes the story of the rise of a rock star. The early years are lean, but “romantic”, as Cooper and his band live a hand-to-mouth existence. Then come the breaks, the rise to stardom, depravities and addiction. Finally, Cooper checks into a treatment center (one of the first big names to do so), dries out and recovers his life. Ultimately, he becomes a Christian and refocuses his art (still a shock rocker, but now a shock rocker for Christ).

Much of the fun of the book is in the stories that Cooper tells about people he has met: Salvador Dali, Frank Sinatra, the Doors, George Burns, Tiger Woods, John Daly, Arnold Palmer, and many more.

A couple of things about Cooper’s story stood out for me. First, he was not nearly as depraved as I would have imagined. In many ways, he was – and is – astoundingly normal. I have known people in my life who are much further out in left field. (There apparently is nothing to the biting a head off a bat chicken story).

Second, I found myself liking him. As this is an autobiography, you have to consider the source, but Cooper comes across as a genuinely caring guy. His relationship with the aging – and declining – Groucho Marx is touching. His friendships with other people whose lives have crossed his seem quite rich.

Still, the short version of the book is no different from a lot of rock biographies. What makes it different – and relevant to this blog— is that Cooper seriously credits golf with having saved him. Apparently possessed of an addictive personality, he refocused that addiction from alcohol to golf. (I actually suspect that golf attracts a great many addictive personalities). Cooper says that he plays 36 holes a day and carries a five handicap.

The book actually begins with Coopers’ account of his trip to the legendary Pine Valley golf club. And between chapters, he offers advice on the game – a great deal of which I found useful. At the end is an appendix with golf instruction.

I can recommend this book for a lot of reasons. But in the end, I’ll say this. In spite of not particularly liking Cooper’s brand of music, he’s now on my short list of people I’d like to meet. And maybe even play a round of golf. Alice Cooper — are you reading this?

7 thoughts on “Alice Cooper Golf Monster Book Review”

  1. Jack stole my comment.  What does that say about us that what we have to offer on a literary review is the fact check that Ozzy is the one who bit the head of a bat off. 

    Actually it was a dove, and appearantly it was not even at a concert.  From wikipedia (so you know it’s true wink ):
    After signing his first solo career record deal he came in to meet some of the people who worked at the record company. His plan was to release doves into the air to get people to notice him, but when no one noticed, he changed his plans. He grabbed a dove, bit its head off, then spat the head out.[8][9] Then with blood still dripping from his lips a security guard came to remove him; on the way out he bit the head off another dove.

  2. Ok. I checked. It was a chicken that he was accused of biting the head off … not a bat. I got my shock rockers confused.

    From Wikipedia (since I don’t have the book here at work):

    Even though the band incorporated theatrics into their stage act from the outset, a chance case of the press misreporting an unrehearsed stage routine involving Cooper and a live chicken led to the band changing tack — capitalizing on tabloid sensationalism, and creating a new sub genre, shock rock. Cooper claims that the “Chicken Incident”, which took place at the Toronto Rock ‘n Roll Revival concert in September 1969, was an accident. A chicken somehow made its way on stage during Alice Cooper’s performance, and not having any experience around livestock, Cooper thought, “Chickens have wings, so they must be able to fly,” so he picked it up and threw it out over the crowd, with the intention of having the chicken fly away. But, chickens cannot fly particularly well, and the bird plummeted into the crowd and was reportedly ripped to shreds by the rowdy audience.

    The next day, the incident made the front page of many national newspapers. Zappa phoned him shortly afterwards to ask if the story, which reported that Cooper had bit the head off the live chicken and drank its blood on stage, was true. Cooper denied the rumor, whereupon Zappa told him, “Well, whatever you do, don’t tell anyone you didn’t do it.”[6] Zappa considered that kind of publicity priceless for the band. “The Chicken Incident” ranked #12 in VH1’s 100 Most Shocking Moments in Rock and Roll in 2001. The incident also was parodied in Ray Stevens’ “The Moonlight Special” where the second verse features Agnes Stoopa (a takeoff on Cooper) and his pet chicken.

  3. And so the story about Alice Cooper and the chicken brings to memory one of the funniest moments in the history of television IMO.  And probably everyone knows what I am talking about, but just in case:

    Les Nessman reporting “oh the humanity” as turkeys are dropped from a helicopter for a Thanksgiving promotion on WKRP.

  4. Absolutely, Martin. I have never laughed so hard in my life as when I saw that. I’m wondering now if that wasnt’ inspired by Cooper’s incident.

  5. Just an FYI, it wasn’t Alice Cooper who supposedly bit off the head of a bat on stage.  That was Ozzy Osbourne.  If I remember correctly, it was actually a fake bat.

  6. When I was in college I worked in the security detail for rock concerts at Boston Garden. I’ll always remember the Alice Cooper concert and dodging the joints and panties that were being thrown up at him on stage. smile Now he and I share the honor of both having our books reviewed by you. Very cool.

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