Rolling Stone

Originally Published: July 04, 1974

Alice Cooper: Death on TV

Calgary, Alberta - Hanging parties, along with vigilante mobs and saloon shoot outs, belong to the raunchy, rugged frontier past of this city. It took Alice and his traveling execution show to teach the local kids a few rope tricks.

Details of what apparently were Cooper-inspired hanging parties surfaced last month at a coroner's inquest into the death of a 13-year-old boy who was found swinging from a sturdy length of hemp in his bedroom closet. The boy's father told the inquiry that his son's experiment with execution dated from his viewing an In Concert show aired in Canada in March in which Alice did his staged demonstration of do-it-yourself death with a gallows and a hangman's rope.

Some of the youth's friends testified that they held hanging parties after watching the "Alice Cooper thing," stringing themselves up from the ceiling and jumping off chairs. Others in the act would catch the swingers as they began to turn blue.

The dead boy's father related a story of dares and challenges culminating in the death by strangulation of the youth. After watching the Alice Cooper act, the boy told his sister that the singer's macabre machinations were mere trickery, and offered to duplicate the death scene. Another youth testified that he had been with the dead boy on a previous occasion when he hanged himself with a belt with no apparent ill effects.

The father said his son's death "doesn't help our family, but I can understand a 13-year-old trying to repeat the act." Pathologist John Butt said he knows of three cases similar to the one under investigation.

The coroner's jury, in ruling the death accidental, called for a ban on TV programs which depict simulated hanging or other violent acts. However, such a ban would be difficult to effect, since much of the programming on Canadian TV is piped in by coaxial cable from the United States.