The Day Toronto Fans Rioted After Alice Cooper Canceled a Show
Canadians are generally viewed as peace-loving defenders of diplomacy, except when it comes to hockey, of course. But they have also shown they can riot with the best of them. While the Guns N' Roses-Metallica riot in Montreal in 1992 is arguably one of the country's best-known uprisings, Detroit native Alice Cooper was responsible for indirectly inciting a riot at Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition on Aug. 19, 1980.
As reported by BlogTO, the ill-fated Alice Cooper concert started off innocuously enough. Following a set by progressive rock band Zon, which reportedly tested the patience of the 13,000-strong in attendance, an eternal 90 minutes lapsed before an undisclosed representative took the stage to advise Cooper was running late due to a luggage concern at Toronto's Pearson Airport.
Just after 10PM, however, Cooper's guitarist Dick Wagner appeared on stage to deliver some bad news: Alice Cooper wouldn't be playing the show. Wagner had reportedly not even finished speaking before chairs began being indiscriminately lobbed at the stage. The lengthy span of time that had lapsed between Zon finishing their set to the time of Wagner's announcement only served to fuel concertgoers' fury.
More than 200 Toronto police officers quickly descended upon the venue, ultimately resulting in the arrest of 30 individuals on more than 20 charges. Eighteen people were hospitalized. Damage to the venue reportedly exceeded $175,000.
Curiously, rumors about the reason why Cooper cancelled the show ran the gamut from his being incapacitated to being out on the town, drinking with friends. It would turn out the rumors were exactly just that. When he returned to perform in Toronto the following year, Cooper was not granting one-on-one interviews. He did, however, participate in a phone interview during which he explained the circumstances which led to the show cancellation the year before.
"It's strange because I heard such great rumors as to why the show was cancelled," Cooper laughs in the interview. "It was a simple thing; it was the first show I had missed in 15 years ... I have bronchial asthma; I was born with it ... I hadn't had an attack since I was 6 years old, but I arrived in Toronto that day, was in full costume and make up and couldn't walk across the room."
Interestingly, the aborted Alice Cooper show was not the first riot that Toronto concertgoers instigated in 1980. Just two months prior, hometown punk heroes Teenage Head saw a riot break out at Ontario Place during a free performance.
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