The legendary rock star is preparing to play Herod in 'Jesus Christ Superstar.'
There are few rock stars whose stage performances have been as eccentric as Alice Cooper’s. Featuring guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, deadly snakes, baby dolls, and dueling swords, Cooper’s onstage behavior has earned him his nickname, “The Godfather of Shock Rock.” Now, as the venerable rock star prepares to reprise the role of King Herod in NBC’s upcoming broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, he has opened up about how his faith guided him to turn from the temptations of drugs and alcohol.
Cooper told Confidential that he knew he needed to make a change in his life when he woke up vomiting blood, 37 years ago:
“Everything that could go wrong was shutting down inside of me. I was drinking with Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix and trying to keep up with Keith Moon and they all died at 27.”
Cooper, then 33, was diagnosed as a “classic alcoholic”. He turned to his wife and the faith in which he was raised to better resist the temptations that come with the life of a rock star.
“My wife and I are both Christian,” the 70-year-old performer explains. “My father was a pastor, my grandfather was an evangelist. I grew up in the church, went as far away as I could from it — almost died — and then came back to the church.”
Of the duality of life as a faithful Christian and secular musician he said:
“There’s nothing in Christianity that says I can’t be a rock star. People have a very warped view of Christianity. They think it’s all very precise and we never do wrong and we’re praying all day and we’re right-wing. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with a one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ.”
NBC’s live broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert will air on Easter Sunday, April 1. The production will feel more like a concert than a Broadway show, with a two foot stage and a mosh pit, however there will be stage blocking and acting from the performers. Some 1,300 audience members will also become a “key part of the narrative” as the show unfolds.
Cooper recorded “King Herod’s Song” for writers Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice on their 2000 London recording. He says his inspiration for the role comes from Harry Potter actor Alan Rickman:
“When I first heard about it, I thought Alan Rickman — that condescending sort of arrogant character, and I kind of fashioned what I would do after what I thought Alan Rickman would do if he were alive,” he chuckles.
Here’s a little preview if you haven’t heard it.
John Legend will take the leading role of Jesus, with Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas and Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene.