This Day in 1972: Alice Cooper Proves A Little Too Shocking for a Few ABC Affiliates
44 years ago today, Alice Cooper performed four songs on the premiere episode of the ABC series In Concert, an appearance which directly resulted in the series’ subsequent episodes being sent to local network affiliates in advance of their airdates for managerial approval.
Yeah, Alice kind of freaked out some of the folks in Cincinnati.
It seemed like it was going to be a relatively even-keeled affair when In Concert premiered, with a set list featuring performances by Cooper, Bo Diddley, Curtis Mayfield, and Seals and Croft, but pity those other three acts, because it was Cooper who was given the opportunity to set the stage and subsequently scare the pants off some of Cincinnati’s more sensitive viewers….specifically Lawrence H. Rogers II, owner of Cincinnati’s WKRC-TV Channel 12, who was so horrified by the sights unfolding on his TV screen that he ordered the station to pull the program immediately. Per a report on the Alice Cooper website Sick Things, Rogers’ decision “was responded to within minutes with a phoned-in bomb threat and several car loads of youths picketing the station. Some 4,000 letters of protest, many profane, poured in over the next few days, the biggest mail load that station officials could remember.”
TV Guide interviewed Ro Grignon, WKRC-TV’s station manager, after the incident, and he wanted to assure the readers both inside and outside of his city that some of his best friends were rock concerts…or something along those lines, anyway. “We think they’re going to be a smashing success,” Grignon told the magazinee. “We simply found Cooper a little tense.”
Cincinnati wasn’t the only place that had that sort of reaction. In addition, the ABC affiliate in Kingsport, Tennessee complained to the network, and the Philadelphia affiliate opted to hold onto the episode and air it instead at 1:30 a.m., a time period when presumably viewers are willing to watch just about anything without issuing complaints about its content.
So what was this content that was so offensive? Oh, just typical Alice Cooper stuff: police pulling Alice through the crowd, Alice chugging from a beer bottle, throwing around a trashcan, and teasing bassist Dennis Dunaway’s hair with a switchblade, plus a fight scene and – as is standard practice for an Alice Cooper show – a bit with a gallows, where Alice is placed in a noose and Dennis is reading from a prayer book right up until the floor drops out from under Alice.
Okay, now that we’ve gone back and read what we typed, we might be able to appreciate a little bit more about why Cincinnati got so weirded out. But it’s still classic Alice Cooper.