Alice Cooper and his wife of 43 years clarify ‘death pact’ comments

One of the weirder stories making the rounds over the weekend is that Alice Cooper, 71, and his wife of 43 years, Sheryl Goddard, 61, made a “death pact.” The singer, known for his creation of the “shock rock” genre, and incorporating elements of gore into his set to shock audiences (including a working guillotine, a boa constrictor, and, most infamously, perhaps, a poor chicken), gave an interview to the Daily Mirror and talked about his 43-year marriage to Sheryl, and how they are inseparable:

Shock rock king Alice Cooper made an art of terrifying audiences during his Seventies heyday.

Sticking his head in a guillotine on stage. And performing a mock hanging which nearly killed him.

He was even rumoured to have slept in a coffin with a built-in stereo installed.

So when we start talking about his devoted wife of 43 years, Sheryl Goddard, it’s somehow not quite so shocking when Alice, 71, stares into my eyes and sighs: “We’ve made a pact – there is no way of surviving without each other.

“I couldn’t live without her. We always said there will never be a time when one of us will be mourning the other.

“Whenever it does happen, we are going to go together.

“I’ve been married 43 years to the greatest girl in the world. We have never cheated on each other.”

It’s entirely believable. In a rock world littered with shattered marriages, they’ve been inseparable since Sheryl, 61, began dancing in his stage shows in 1975.

[From the Daily Mirror]

Alice has since issued a statement correcting the report:

“We have a LIFE pact. We love life so much,” the 71-year-old rocker told USA TODAY in a statement.

Cooper made many a headline over the weekend following an article in the British tabloid the Daily Mirror that quotes him as saying he and his wife plan “to go together” when one of them dies, because there’s “no way of surviving without each other.”

“What I was meaning was that because we’re almost always together, at home and on the road, that if something did happen to either of us, we’d most likely be together at the time,” Cooper added to USA TODAY. “But neither of us has a suicide pact. We have a life pact.”

[From USA Today]

I think this is a combination of sloppy reporting, and Alice having fun with hyperbole: If you read the quotes from Alice in the interview, he never explicitly says that he and Sheryl have a “death pact,” or, as he calls it in his response, a “suicide pact.” The “death pact” comes from the article headline. It sounds to me that he was using hyperbole: because he and Sheryl are so in love, they don’t believe that they would survive without each other, and so might not: that the “pact” that they made was a mutually agreed upon understanding of that fact, regardless of whether it actually turns out to be true. (Relatedly, Broken Heart Syndrome is real, though rarely fatal.) Alice may have known how his discussion of a “pact” about them not “surviving without each other” would come across, and thought he’d have fun with it and enjoy the publicity, which ended up going way up thanks to the Mirror’s headline and the reporter’s word-choice. It’s also highly likely that the reporter used the term “death pact” because the pact has to do with Alice and Sheryl’s deaths, and the reporter knew that many people would infer “suicide pact” from that. A great example of proof is right in Alice’s response.

That said, in the interview, Alice also didn’t connect the existence of their “pact” to the fact that he and Sheryl will “most likely be together at the time [that one of them dies],” as he explained to USA Today. That circumstance would completely make sense and not be sensational in the least. Alice also may have said it as a lead-in to the quotations in the Mirrorarticle and the reporter conveniently excluded it.

The article goes on to discuss Alice’s creation of the “shock rock” genre, how he maintains his good health, and his family life; he spends time baby-sitting his twin grandsons. He and Sheryl have three children: daughters Calico and Sonora, and son, Dashiell. There are also tidbits in the article about how Alice is friends with Johnny Depp; that he, Depp, and Joe Perry from Aerosmith are in a band called “Hollywood Vampires”; and that he is “helping pal Johnny as he overcomes his acrimonious divorce.” I respect the fact that Alice and Sheryl have had a long marriage and deeply love each other, inartfully described “pacts” aside, but knowing that he’s friends with Johnny Depp is incredibly disappointing.

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