Saturday, September 29, 2012

Alice Cooper Kills Chickens

Rolling Stone, 24 June 1982, p. 54

The Rolling Stone Interview
Pete Townshend: The Guitarist Faces Up to Alcoholism and the Final Days of the Who

By Kurt Loder

Pete Townshend: [Rock music is] a very, very powerful and potent force, and it can be used for fairly distasteful purposes. I remember being horrified seeing Alice Cooper beheading live chickens on stage. And it didn't really redeem him that I had smashed guitars, you know? Somewhere, there was a line. I don't know whether it was just because it was live, or because it was real blood. But the fact that he later went on to make some great records didn't redeem him, either. He's sick, tragic, pathetic -- and will always be that way. I'll say hello to him in the street, but I'll never tip my hat to him.

[Is Townshend claiming he either attended or saw footage of a performance in which Alice Cooper killed a chicken, something Cooper denies he ever did? The big break for Alice was the 1969 Toronto Rock & Roll Revival concert, where he and the band entertained the crowd with their usual antics like eviscerating defenseless pillows and tossing around the feathers. But then a live chicken appeared and broke the routine. This anecdote has been told countless times by Alice, who usually claims the chicken was tossed onstage by someone in the audience. Alice threw the chicken into the crowd, and it was apparently torn to shreds. In Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, the 2014 documentary directed by Mike Myers, both he and his manager (Gordon) now claim the hapless bird was thrown out by Gordon.]

Alice Cooper: Sixty thousand people. We go on, and it’s great. We’re tearing the place up, and the feathers are going, and I look down and there’s a chicken on stage. The only person that could’ve brought the chicken was Shep. Because nobody in the audience would bring a chicken to that concert. Nobody would say, “OK, I’ve got my keys, I got my tickets, I got my chicken….”

Shep Gordon: I thought, let’s have a live chicken! It would be fantastic. I threw it out at them.

AC: I took the chicken and tossed it, thinking, it had feathers, it should fly. Well, it didn’t fly as much as it plummeted.

SG: Everybody went wild.

AC: The audience tore it to pieces.

SG: They threw it back at him. They threw back wings and legs and heads [sic] came flying back up on the stage. And then I saw blood, so I turned my head, ‘cause I faint when I see blood.

AC: The next day in the paper: “ALICE COOPER RIPS HEAD OFF CHICKEN AND DRINKS THE BLOOD.” What should have been incredibly horrible press for anybody became the thing that put us on the map.