February 1988: Alice Cooper Tries to Get “Elected” in Arizona

Alice Cooper in 1989
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Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

On Feb. 24, 1988, Alice Cooper attempted to temporarily set aside his status as iconic shock-rock superstar in favor of politics, kicking off a campaign for governor of Arizona...and, no, we’re not kidding, although Cooper later claimed that he was.

First of all, let’s set the stage in terms of Cooper’s career: this was about six months after the release of his 1987 album Raise Your Fist and Yell, and just under a year and a half before releasing his next LP, Trash. As even the most casual Cooper fans know, Trash featured “Poison,” which - given that it was his first Top 10 hit in over two decades - led people to refer to it as a comeback album, whereas Raise Your Fist and Yell...Well, let’s just say that our man Alice had a lot to come back from.

Still, given that album’s first single, you can see that Cooper’s mind was on the state of America, so the idea that he might throw his hat into the ring and run for office isn’t quite as outrageous.

Not entirely surprisingly, Cooper’s purported gubernatorial campaign found him opting to follow his own path, deciding to avoid the typical two-party system in favor of a political party of his own devising.

“I’m definitely a write-in candidate,” the St. Louis Post Dispatch quoted him as saying at the time. “Hey, I’m a native. I’m a registered voter. I represent the Wild Party, and I even have a campaign slogan: ‘Alice Cooper: A Troubled Man for Troubled Times.”

(According to Joe Rhatigan’s book Bizarre Politics, Cooper had a backup slogan, too: “A Messed-Up Governor for a Messed-Up State.”)

So how did this conversation get started in the first place? It can be tied directly to Arizona’s governor at the time, Evan Mecham, who was in such hot water politically that a recall petition was circulating, which led a reporter to ask Cooper about the state of affairs in his home state.

"It never ceases to amaze me how these men are whitewashed as soon as they're in the public eye, but it wouldn't be the same with me,” said Cooper. “Everyone knows that I'm dirty old Alice from the start. If I became Governor, the people would know what I'm like right from the beginning, which would make a change.”

The remarks about his “Wild Party” apparently came from the same interview, but here’s the thing: Cooper wasn’t actually throwing his hat into the ring, he was just running with a joke...and people took him seriously. Like, really, really seriously - to the point where it was reported damned near everywhere at the time.

As a result, Cooper’s spent the last 33 years having to explain what happened, as he did in a 2001 interview with Metal Edge. “I actually went on TV and made a statement saying, ‘I cannot run for governor; I am not crooked enough to be the governor,'” said Cooper, who underlined that he would never run for governor...or any other office, for that matter, because “I would hate it. I hate politics. I absolutely hate politics!”

Fortunately, he’s still got rock ‘n’ roll to fall back on.

 

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