In a brand new interview with Mistress Carrie of the Worcester/Boston, Massachusetts radio station WAAF, legendary rocker Alice Cooper spoke about how the recent deaths of LINKIN PARK's Chester Bennington and SOUNDGARDEN's Chris Cornell are putting much-needed focus on the devastating consequences of mental illness.
"It is really weird what's going on right now," Cooper said (hear audio below). "First of all, Chris Cornell was one of the most positive people I'd ever met in my life. He had everything going for him on every level. Same with Bennington; same with Chester. I mean, I knew both of these guys pretty well. And they were not heavy drug guys, they were not wild, crazy, insane Keith Moon types; they were really solid, solid, solid and the last people I would ever guess to commit suicide. So I have no idea what's going on with all of this."
When Mistress Carrie suggested to Cooper that clues about what Chester was going through were there in the songs, and especially the lyrics, through which Bennington was able to confront his demons, Alice said: "That would have been true, I think, especially with Jim Morrison [of THE DOORS]. Jim Morrison… When I knew Jim, all he ever wrote about was what was on the other side. Or 'The End', 'Break On Through [To The Other Side]'… I mean, all these songs had all this death involved in it. But if you look at Chris Cornell, 'Black Hole Sun' and all this stuff they did, these guys were really positive guys. I know that a lot of the lyrics were dark because of the area the music is in, but knowing these guys, they're nothing like that."
Asked if he believes that a certain amount of pain is required in order to create great art, Cooper said: "I think that people think that and I think that you feel that you have to be the tortured artist. I have never felt that. I came up against a battle with alcohol and drugs and I turned it to a different thing — I became Christian — and it took care of the whole thing. I haven't had a drink in thirty-seven years, and I've never been happier in my life. Other people go, 'Well, I'll meditate,' or, 'I'll do yoga,' or 'I'll do this or that.' I don't know. For me, it was turning to my faith and believing it's something bigger than me, and it worked. So that's all I can go by. But I was drinking a bottle of whisky a day, I was throwing up blood in the morning, and I was about ready to go until I really got hold of myself and decided what was important."
After Cornell died two months ago, Bennington wrote a letter thanking him for inspiring him and hoping he would find peace in "the next life."
Chester died on July 20, which would have been Cornell's 53rd birthday.
The two singers bonded when they toured together nearly a decade ago.