35 Years Ago: Alice Cooper Ignites Riots in Toronto

35 Years Ago: Alice Cooper Ignites Riots in Toronto

On August 19, 1980 Alice Cooper indirectly caused one of Toronto’s biggest riots when he cancelled a show at Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition.

What started out as a normal concert with the rock band Zon opening the show, turned into a night of rioting with the arrest of more than 30 attendees, 18 injuries and an estimated $175,000 worth of damages.

At first the crowd had been informed that Cooper was running late. But after 90 minutes of waiting, Cooper’s guitarist Dick Wagner came out to break the news to the 13,000 concert-goers that Cooper wouldn’t be playing the show. Before he could even finish, chairs began to be thrown at the stage and 200 Toronto police officers descended upon the venue.

Rumors immediately began on why Cooper missed the show including that he was too busy getting drunk with friends in the city. It wasn’t until a year later that Cooper addressed exactly why he had missed the show and as it turned out, Cooper was indeed sick when he cancelled the show 35 years ago today.

“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.”


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