The recent ASCAP Pop Awards in Beverly Hills brought out some of the biggest names in music. The Man, who won the Vanguard Award, Global Impact Award winner Land Del Rey and the Chainsmokers, whose Drew Taggart was one of four people who shared Songwriter Of The Year award, to iconic rockers Alice Cooper, a surprise performer, KISS’ Paul Stanley and former Bon Jovi guitarist and current RSO member Richie Sambora.
The trio of rock heroes were on hand to honor Desmond Child, who won the prestigious Founders Award. The list of songs Child has written or co-written is mind-boggling, from Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer,” KISS’ “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” and Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” to Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You” and Katy Perry’s “Waking Up In Vegas.”
All three Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame members heaped praise on their longtime friend and collaborator Child. “Think about all the songs this guy wrote. He literally brought people right back into the business — Aerosmith, Bon Jovi,” Cooper said. “All of a sudden there was that whole new fresh sound. I kept listening to these records and I kept going, ‘Wow, who’s writing these songs?’ And I kept seeing this Desmond, Desmond, Desmond. I said, ‘I gotta get in touch with this guy. I want to do ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ a lot more dangerous.’ And that was ‘Poison.’”
“We kind of came up together in a big way. I think it was our first big record together ever,” Sambora said.
Stanley says he has some part in that. “Sustaining the song is what it’s all about and Desmond has done a great job of that. I actually put Desmond with Bon Jovi, that was a fortuitous move,” he says.
The ASCAP Pop Awards were held just three days after the tragic news of the death of DJ/producer Avicii, so that was understandably on the mind of all there, many of whom had worked with or been friends with Avicii. I spoke with the sage Cooper, briefly because that’s all red carpet interviews will allow, about the pitfalls of fame and why after more than 60 years of rock and roll we keep losing artists to despair and addiction.
“If you don’t know how to navigate it, you’re in trouble. You have to be able to put it in its proper place in your life,” he says. “I’m Alice in a situation like this, but two hours ago I wasn’t this at all. But tonight I’ll be this. You still have to have the attitude of I have not written my best song yet, I have not done my best show yet. If you don’t have that attitude you might as well get out of the business.”
The quest for his best song and best show are part of what keep Cooper going/ “I have never worked this hard. I did 120 shows, five continents, 17 countries, Jesus Christ Superstar, got the Vampires tour coming up, another tour with my band and two albums. Other than that though really nothing,” he says, “If I didn’t feel good, if I had a physical problem, but I have never felt better in my life. Seventy was just nothing to me.”
As has been well documented Cooper has been lucky to get a second chance at life and fame after drinking so heavily he woke up in the hospital throwing up blood. So as someone who made the decision to live it is incredibly painful for him to see so many younger rock stars lose the battle to depression and addiction. Two of the hardest for him were Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, who both passed last year.
“I didn’t understand those two. Those are the two that I just did not understand,” he says shaking his head. “I think the thing about it is those two were unpredictable because I think they were clinical depression, which that’s something you can’t start to get a hold of.”