It may surprise some people to learn Vincent Furnier - also known as the singer of bizarre lyrics and macabre stage theatrics, Alice Cooper - was born the son of a minister, especially given the rocker used to simulate animal sacrifice, and even his own execution, on stage. However, these days, Furnier called on his religious faith to found Solid Rock, a teen ministry in Phoenix, Az., aimed to keep kids out of trouble during non-school hours.
Solid Rock's goal is to meet the "spiritual, economical, physical and social needs" by providing a safe, engaging environment. Adolescents at the teen center are offered music, art and vocational programs designed to help them discover their passions in a program motivated by Christian fellowship, said Furnier/Cooper.
Participants sign a "volunteer statement and code of conduct."
"We are fulfilling a vision we've had for several years...to provide teens with a central place to learn, have fun, and explore their creativity in a supportive and safe environment. The Rock is the first of many teen centers in Arizona and, ultimately, around the country," said 68-year-old Furnier/Cooper.
The Teen Center is open Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., offering free music and dance lessons, as well as a safe place to do homework, work in the Computer Lab, or just hang out. Classes for guitar, bass, drums and vocals can be scheduled in advance.
Furnier has firsthand knowledge of redirecting one's life. He struggled with substance abuse during his rock and roll heyday through the 1970s. It took a rediscovery of his religious upbringing to help get him sober, reports World Religion News. In an interview with The Huffington Post in 2012, Furnier shared his belief that "every word of the Bible is true."
In 1975, when the rest of the Alice Cooper band didn't want to follow Furnier into crazier and more elaborate stage antics, the band split up. Furnier kept the name, with permission of the other members, and created the villainous on-stage persona known as Alice Cooper.
Furnier admits he refers to Alice Cooper in the "third person," because he "belongs on stage."
When his drug and alcohol abuse reached its lowest point, World Religion News reports Furnier/Cooper knew he had to change his rock-and-roll ways. The performer also thought he would have to give up the Alice Cooper persona, but his pastor disagreed, "Does God make mistakes?" Since then, Furnier/Cooper has balanced his inner-rocker with his Christian beliefs to help local youth grow up happy and fulfilled in a Christian environment.
Furnier was born in Detroit, Mich., however moved to Phoenix when he was 17 years old and lived there since.