Alice Cooper opens up about mock execution stunt that nearly killed him

Rock legend Alice Cooper has been known for his death-defying stunts over the years. Whether he's sitting in an electric chair, using real switchblades as props or facing the "gallows," Cooper was never afraid of a challenge in order to wow his audience.

But one night, while rehearsing a mock execution on stage at England's Wembley Stadium in April 1988, an accident almost cost Cooper his life.

With guidance from stage magician James Randi, Cooper wore a harness connected to thick piano wire hanging from the rafters to hoist himself up. The wire kept the noose hanging at least an inch above his neck. During the show, Cooper planned to drop several feet in the gallows, pretending he was hanging from a noose.

"I went down to the floor and pretty much blacked out."

- Alice Cooper

“When I go to the circus and there’s a guy in a cage with 12 tigers, there’s always a chance that one of the tigers didn’t get the message,” Cooper, who recently played King Herod in NBC's "Jesus Christ Superstar Live," told Entertainment Weekly. “When you see a guy on a tight wire, you know that there may be a second you witness a tragedy. I always wanted that in our show: What they’re seeing could be the last night of Alice Cooper.”

Cooper successfully pulled off the stunt dozens of times without a hitch. He never even thought about changing the wire.

"You know, I figured it’ll last forever,” Cooper told the magazine.

Then suddenly, while he was practicing the stunt, he heard a snap. The wire broke and the rope hit his chin.

"In an instant I flipped my head back. That must’ve been a fraction of a second because if it caught my chin it would have been a different result," Cooper explained. "It went over my neck and gave me a pretty good burn. I went down to the floor and pretty much blacked out.”

Fortunately, Cooper's quick-thinking saved his life. He was able to slip his neck out of the rope and tumble onto the stage. He was unconscious, but still breathing at the time, Ultimate Classic Rock reported.

The accident rattled Cooper, but it didn't stop him from continuing the show -- or the stunt. Cooper switched out the wire and continued performing the fake hanging, despite the incident.

“You’re going to get paid, you’re going to see the world, and you’re going to get stitches,” said Cooper, adding that's the advice he always gives his bandmates.