Alice Cooper should know: The legendary rocker has spent a lot of quality time with the couple, touring with Depp and their band Hollywood Vampires in both L.A. and Brazil this fall. On Thursday, PEOPLE caught up with Cooper at the T.J. Martell Foundation 40th Anniversary Honors Gala – the organization has been instrumental in offering research grants to help find cures for several deadly diseases – where the rocker sounded off on the happy couple.
“They were very, very much in love. They’re doing great,” Cooper told PEOPLE of his recent trip to Brazil with the couple, where they helped distribute hearing aids to more than 250 locals. “Johnny and Amber were in there putting hearing aids in.”
It was an emotional trip for all, as Heard was even seen tearing up as she watched them hear for the first time.
“Johnny, Joe Perry, Sheryl my wife, and I are actually putting these things in their ears,” Cooper said. “People are hearing for the first time, and there was not a dry eye in the house. It was little kids, I mean, we got to put the hearing aids in and go, ‘Hello,’ and the kids go like this,” says Cooper, widening his eyes in wonder.
His wife Sheryl added, “I sang to a little boy … and for the first time he heard music. That was the first time. It was amazing.”
Just as Depp and Heard are going strong, Cooper himself spoke proudly of his own marriage.
“We’ve been married 40 years,” said the rocker.
Their secret, noted Sheryl while pointing to her husband, is: “I love him.”
Cooper agreed: “I love her,” then joked, “We never get any publicity because we never get divorced.”
Jokes aside, Cooper was happy to honor music exec John Varvatos at the gala Thursday, saying the cause attracts star musicians – that night alone drew Train’s Pat Monahan, REO Speedwagon and Foreigner, who all performed – because “they’ve been one of those organizations that have consistently worked. If it’s not a golf tournament, it’s a bowling tournament, and it’s always for the right reasons. I think all your rockers will come out for that. It’s something we can all buy into.”
At the gala, the newly created Clive Davis Research Fellow Award – an annual grant bestowed upon an individual who’s made innovative strides in cancer and AIDS research – was announced. Davis told PEOPLE he was honored to be affiliated with the grant. “This has been the industry charity for 40 years,” the music mogul said, adding, “I’ve been the honoree twice in the past, but this is different – a first research fellowship is being named for me.”
The evening raised more than $1.7 million for the nonprofit foundation, which funds innovative medical research focused on finding cures for leukemia, cancer and AIDS. It was well-loved industry exec Tony Martell who launched the organization in 1975 in honor of his son T.J., who died of leukemia.
Martell told PEOPLE of attending the 40th anniversary gala, “It’s very emotional,” adding that he made a promise to his son to raise a million dollars to help with medical research. “My son was on his death bed,” he says. “I couldn’t say no.”
As for what brings top music stars out to support him year after year, event after event, Martell said, “Just friendship. Musicians are the best people, because they have a lot of heart.”