You probably know about some of the more famous musicians who have made their faith public—Cat Stevens’ conversion to Islam, Bob Dylan’s to Christianity from Judaism—but there are many more whose stories are a surprise.
Sometimes it’s actually a rediscovery (many of them grew up in religious households, turned away from faith, and then rediscovered it later). So who are these stars who found God, religion or decided to change faiths? A few are below and you can check out the entire gallery at Snakkle.com.
(PETER WEST – ACE PICTURES/Imagecollect)
Alice Cooper is Born Again
Shock rocker as born-again Christian? Alice Cooper is living proof. The guy who brought us “Alice Cooper Goes to Hell” and the anthemic “School’s Out,” and lyrics like “I love the dead before they’re cold/ Their bluing flesh for me to hold” is, in fact, a devoted Christian. Born Vincent Furnier, Cooper grew up in the church; both his father and his grandfather were evangelists. But when he formed a band, he realized that there was a dearth of villains in the music scene. So he consciously constructed the ultimate bad-guy image, even while his early music had a very Christian message—turning away from Satan (whom Cooper describes as “the slickest car salesman you ever saw”). After years of alcoholism and rehab, Cooper straightened out his life with the help of his faith. “I’m the perfect example of the prodigal son,” Cooper said on a Christian TV show. Cooper founded the faith-based Solid Rock organization, which gives kids a productive, creative alternative to drugs and violence. Still, the violent imagery in his stage show (guillotines and all) may seem, you know, kind of at odds with his Christianity. But he doesn’t see it that way. “Alice is a character,” he told the press. “And between me and the Lord, the Lord knows that.”
(GLOBE PHOTOS, INC/Imagecollect BOB MARLEY)
Bob Marley Was Baptized
Undisputedly the most recognizable and revered reggae artist of all time, Bob Marley was only 36 when he died of cancer. His songs—including “One Love,” “Get Up Stand Up” and “War”—were not only great music; they spoke to social justice (and injustice) in Jamaica and beyond. The politics described so vividly in his lyrics were closely tied to his Rastafari beliefs. Although Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq spoke publicly after Marley’s death about having baptized him in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church about a year earlier, Marley’s conversion was kept mostly under wraps during his life. (There is a close correlation between the two faiths, but with several fundamental distinctions.) “Bob was really a good brother, a child of God, regardless of how people looked at him,” Yesehaq said in an interview. It remains controversial to this day, as he is still so closely associated with Rastafari.
(Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)
Ringo Starr Found Religion Again
What happens to a musician who, in his 20s, becomes part of the most popular band the world has ever known? If you’re Ringo Starr, you go wild for a while, collaborate with lots of other musicians… and search for God. Starr attended an Evangelical Anglican church as a child but has only rediscovered the importance of religion in his life in recent years. “Being on this quest for a long time, it’s all about finding yourself,” Starr told the Los Angeles Times. “For me, God is in my life. I don’t hide from that…. I stepped off the path there for many years and found my way [back] onto it, thank God.” Starr continues to record and tour with varying lineups of his All-Starr Band.
Prince Became A Jehovah’s Witness
Few contemporary musicians are as universally revered as Prince. He’s influential as a singer, songwriter, mentor, and activist for artists’ rights. In addition to sexy lyrics and dance moves onstage, Prince was once known for his proclivity for wearing revealing clothes. But in the early 2000s, after a series of heartbreaking events including the deaths of both his son and his parents, he became a Jehovah’s Witness and all that changed. Now he even goes door-to-door asking people if they’d like to talk about God. “There’s an incredible peace in my life now and I’m trying to share it with people,” Prince told the U.K. press. He has also turned his considerable talent and charisma toward worship—check him out praising Jehovah at the 2005 NAACP Image Awards.