For all the envelope-pushing Alice Cooper has done as a shock rocker, he also knows the value of boundaries, especially for children.
“Kids love boundaries. We used to fight against them. But in all reality, what we really did want was to know where we could go. Of course, you always step over the line just a little bit to see what’s going to happen,” said the 58-year-old rocker, known for his ghoulish makeup and hits such as 1975’s “Welcome to My Nightmare.”
Cooper said his Christian, nonprofit Solid Rock Foundation has begun fundraising efforts for a 20,000-square-foot teen activity center to be called The Rock, to be built at Grand Canyon University in West Phoenix.
The $3 million center will feature a recording studio, indoor basketball courts, rock-climbing walls, coffeehouse, game room and concert hall. Construction is expected to begin next year.
“People don’t lay in the sun in southwest Phoenix. There’s lots of shootings going, there’s lots of meth going on, there’s lots of gangs,” Cooper said. “In the middle of all that is a bunch of 12-, 13-, 14-year-old kids that can go one way or the other.”
Officials for Grand Canyon University, a private college with a Christian focus, came to Cooper with the offer to build the youth center on the campus. Cooper has given scholarships to the school for more than five years.
“We’re not going to beat them over the head with a Bible,” Cooper said. “But we’re certainly going to be available to tell them that that’s available to them.”
Cooper, who spends about seven months of the year at home in suburban Paradise Valley, said that when he walks off the stage, “I’m going back to Phoenix, play golf, work on Solid Rock, go shopping and do everything that a father and a husband’s supposed to do.”
“I watched all of my best friends — Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon — every one of them, die trying to live their image,” he said.
“The one thing that my generation learned was ‘be a rock star when it’s time to be a rock star.”’