One of the most popular musicians in my high school years was Vincent Damon Furnier, AKA, Alice Cooper. He was one of the founding “faces” of the shock rock scene of the ’60s and ’70s with his bleeding mascara eyes, long black hair and dark clothing. He’s most known for the teen angst anthems “I’m 18” and “School’s Out”. His performances were extraordinarily counter cultural gory. They tried to ban his show in England. Furnier’s Allice Cooper stage persona was quite a bit different from his childhood. He was the son of a pastor who spent almost all of his social time at church. Then, in high school, he saw the Beatles and decided to become a musician. As he became successful, he decided that the rock music world needed a villain. So he became one – Alice Cooper. While he never rejected his Christian upbringing, he certainly did not expose it in his professional life. He called himself the prototypical prodigal. I suspect that many Christians of the 70s would have called him reprobate, or worse. Off stage, Cooper had two passions. Golf and beer. It was reported once that he played golf and drank at least a case of beer every day. He tried to quit in the late 70’s but relapsed. In the 1980s his alcoholism, and a new cocaine addiction, was so acute that he was near death. Cooper was taken to a hospital and told that he had to stop the alcohol and beer or be dead in two weeks. Cooper was determined to become sober. This is what he said about it:
“When I came out of the hospital, I kept waiting for the craving to come, and it never came. It was a miracle,” he said. “I tell people I’m not a cured alcoholic, I’m a healed alcoholic. I never went to AA or anything like that, and I give all credit to God for that. Even the doctor said, ‘This is a miracle that you’re not falling back on alcohol every time there’s a stressful situation.’ So, it’s gone. It’s just gone.”
Cooper then did everything he could to live a life of faith.
This story about Cooper reminds me a bit of this week’s scripture personality, Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a prodigal Jew who became a despised tax collector in Jericho and who was saved by Jesus from his unsavory lifestyle. It, too, appears miraculous. Come and hear about it Sunday at John McMillan Presbyterian Church at 8:30 and 11 when Pastor Jeff preaches “Zacchaeus” based on Luke 19: 1-10. Communion will be served!