Alice Cooper dying onstage is all part of the show.
Part of his act has always been about violence, and we have seen him die every time he takes to the stage, either being hung from the gallows or getting stabbed with a gigantic syringe. These are professional props though, and it doesn’t take much for one of them to malfunction.
Back when Alice was going through his soundcheck in the ‘70s, he remembered one time when he almost got into serious trouble during the gallows trick.
When talking about how the stage show works, Alice had mentioned using a piece of piano wire to keep himself in place without suffocating saying to Loudwire (10:25),
“When you go to the gallows, they bring the rope down and put it around your neck. What you don’t see is the piano wire in the back of the rope which is one inch shorter. So when you fall through the gallows, the rope hits you but it stops and you can just hang there.”
It seemed easy enough, but this particular soundcheck had a few drastic problems. Alice talked about the piano wire coming undone at the beginning of the stunt, saying,
“It worked every night. At rehearsal, we never thought the piano wire might start getting a little bit old. And I heard the wire snap. When it came down, I started feeling a whole lot more pressure that there should be [around my neck].”
Alice had settled into panic mode at this point, saying that self-preservation took him over and helped him escape.
“I snapped my head back and it went over. If I would have had a Jay Leno chin, it would have caught me and it would have been really bad news. The rope burned me pretty good and I dropped 8 feet and was knocked out. I woke up and went ‘What was that?’ and the wire was snapped.’”
Even after escaping a real hanging, Alice says he still gets scared doing it saying,
“There was never a moment. When that floor drops out, it takes your breath a little bit. There’s that moment when you’re like ‘Ah, I’m okay. The same thing with the guillotine. When you hear it, your mind is going ‘Die Die Die’ and when it comes down you know you’re okay.”
Alice might be known for his rock and roll circus onstage, but you can’t say he hasn’t suffered for his art either.