While modern rock is littered with "now you hear them, now you don't" bands, Alice Cooper has some serious staying power. "I think a lot of [Alice Cooper] records of the '70s, the hard-rock stuff, are really solid," says Phil Freeman, a rock critic and the managing editor of Global Rhythm. "If you go back to it, it's really well-played, well-produced, really good hard rock, with good melodies and interesting lyrics. Yeah, Alice is hugely important. I don't think underrated, but he should be listened to more." The original band released its first album, Pretties for You, in 1969. It took a while for Cooper to trust that anybody really got his band. "I honestly thought we were the black sheep of rock and roll. I thought that until we had platinum albums and number one albums," he says. And later, the Alice Cooper action figures and comic books, along with a turn as a clue on Jeopardy!, really convinced him he had made it. "If you become a Pez dispenser, that means you are recognized around the world," he says.
IN PERSON, Cooper is instantly familiar, but sans makeup, there's a kindness about his face that the stage Cooper would certainly sneer at. He smiles easily (especially when he's poking fun at me or cheering me on). His golf attire won't win any villain points either: Instead of wearing the theatrical outfits rock fans know him for (not every man can pull off a black leather jacket bedecked in giant sequins), Cooper dresses in a white polo shirt piped with black and black pants, making him a lean, country-club-ready figure. His black hair is pulled back into a ponytail, and a white Callaway visor - he's the golf brand's hardest-rocking pitchman and devotee - is snuggled onto his head.
I hadn't warned them that I am a lefty. So after switching out the equipment already set aside for me, and with Cooper joshing me, saying, "I play with a guy who's a lefty every day; we put up with it," we head outside to the driving range. A line of people are wrapped up in their own little worlds, just swinging, swinging, swinging. Nobody takes notice of the rock god. It's clear that Cooper is a familiar sight on the nine-hole course. In fact, the Riverview is home to the annual Alice Cooper Bloodbath - "the tournament that benefits no one," says Cooper.
After Mooney positions my hands on the club, the swinging begins. "She's got a great grip already," says Cooper. I'm trying not to beam, to remain the journalist and not switch into adoring-rock-fan mode, but … it's difficult. "You're proud of me?" I ask. Then, after swinging at - and purposely breaking - a few tees to make sure I can connect, Mooney loads a tee with a ball. After a few misses, thwack. "Well, excuse me … up in the air and down the middle," Cooper beams back, shooting his arms into the air as though he himself just collected a big win.
"I'll be on the tour with you very soon - and I used to play violin, if you need that onstage," I say.
His reply: "Hit another million balls, and you'll be ready."