How Alice Cooper and Ann Landers Ended Up Debating Necrophilia
Alice Cooper didn't roll over and play dead when famous advice columnist Ann Landers criticized "Cold Ethyl." Instead, he wrote back to Landers, beginning a public correspondence that's still amazing to read all these years later.
"Cold Ethyl" – a typically creepy, necrophilia-themed song – had been part of the the Welcome to My Nightmare album for some four years when Landers first noticed it. She used her nationally syndicated column to criticize the track's macabre subject matter, arguing that it was unsuitable for kids. Landers also had problems with Cooper's legendary onstage antics, which include a ritual beheading.
Cooper responded, and Landers published his letter in December 1979.
"I'm really sorry you found that old song of mine crude and offensive," Cooper wrote. "Actually, 'Cold Ethyl' is just a harmless number about necrophilia. The point I want to make is that the kids are not bothered by this — their parents are. The kids see the song and gruesome antics, like with the guillotine, for exactly what it is — satire, done with a sense of humor to a rock 'n' roll beat. Kids know I am harmless. It's their parents that make me out to be some kind of a monster."
Landers, whose column ran for 47 years before her death in 2002, wasn't budging. She again strongly disagreed, and said so.
"For those who don't know what necrophilia is, it's sexual intercourse with someone who is dead," Landers wrote. "You can call it funny if you want to, Alice. I call it sick. I like satire as much as the next person, but chopping off heads and spurting blood all over the place is not my idea of entertainment. I caught your guillotine number in Chicago several years ago and almost lost my supper. (Guess I'm an uncool cat.) You have in your group some exceptionally talented performers and you're no slouch yourself, Alice. I just wish you'd clean up your act."
He didn't. Cooper continued to employ the guillotine onstage. He even offered to behead members of Motley Crue at the last stop of their joint tour together in 2015.
Forgotten First Albums: Rock's 61 Most Overshadowed Debuts
When Alice Cooper Got Stoned with Pink Floyd