Saturday marks 30 years since a grim on-stage malfunction almost resulted in the death of metal icon Alice Cooper, during his 1988 Raise Your Fist And Yell tour of Europe.
The defective prop in question was called ‘The Gallows’, and was designed by magician and paranormal investigator James Randi. It was basically a traditional wooden scaffold with a noose, which Alice would ascend and then appear to hang himself on. The device included a hidden harness suspended with robust piano wire, which had operated perfectly for all previous shows (see video below). But at Wembley, things went pear-shaped.
“Everything has its stress limit, and after doing so many shows, I never thought about changing the wire…. You know, I figured it’ll last forever,” Cooper recently said.
“The wire snaps. I could hear the rope hit my chin, and in an instant I flipped my head back.”
“That must’ve been a fraction of a second, because if it caught my chin it would have been a different result. It went over my neck and gave me a pretty good burn. I went down to the floor and pretty much blacked out.”
A Kerrang review described the scene: “A shaken and shocked Alice had to be cut free from the noose which had tightened around his neck and he suffered severe bruising on his neck as a result of the accident. Needless to say the man is such a professional that he continued with the full show despite his injury.”
Just the day before, after reports of fans fainting, throwing up and being doused in buckets of fake blood (and only two concerts into the tour), outraged MP David Blunkett said in a statement to the media: “I’m horrified by his behaviour – it goes beyond the bounds of entertainment… it’s an indication of the sick society we’re moving into, and something drastic should be done to protect young people from paying for this sort of obscenity.”
Here’s what the stunt looks like when it goes right… and please, friends and neighbours, don’t try this at home.