Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell Recalls Epic Prank War with Van Halen During 1991 Tour
It’s story time with Jerry Cantrell! In a recent fascinating and hilarious interview, the Alice in Chains mastermind spoke about the essential art of the prank. When two bands have been touring together for some time, pranks are bound to happen, and Cantrell went into detail about an epic prank war between Alice in Chains and Van Halen from 1991.
During an interview with Jim Dunlop, Cantrell recalled Alice in Chains and Van Halen constantly one-upping each other during the 1991 tour, which led to onstage pranks involving unattractive strippers, dismantling gear mid-performance, invading the stage dressed only in women’s underwear and more.
“A lot of pranks get pulled on stage, it’s kind of a tradition to f— with each other at the end of the tour, especially the opening bands,” describes Cantrell. “I remember the Van Halen guys got us like four times in one set, back in ’91, at the end of that tour. When we came out on stage, they had taken a bunch of three-foot strips of duct tape and put them all over the stage face-up, so we walked out and within the couple seconds we were all dragging around huge wads of duct tape on stage. They sent out some strippers, not very attractive ones, who stayed out there for a whole song. Then they sent out one of their techs, I think he was a guy named Zeke, in a Little Bo Peep outfit with some live sheep. And at the very end of our set, we were playing “Man In The Box,” and their crew came out and started dismantling our entire set around us—they left Sean with a kick and snare, left me with one cab, they just unplugged Mike Starr. And that was all in one set! I don’t think anyone has ever topped that commitment to fucking with the opening act.”
Cantrell continues to describe Alice in Chains’ payback: “On the flip side of that, there’s a photo [above], which I think some people have seen, but I don’t think is necessarily public knowledge… So Van Halen used to do this signature walk across the stage, and at the time they had these skimpy panties that they would sell to the chicks in the audience. Really skimpy panties. So we took some of these panties and put them on—of course they weren’t big enough keep our junk in, so we had to turn them around with the butt parts in front to keep our stuff together—and put on some combat boots, and we made ourselves up as strippers and did that Van Halen signature walk across the stage behind them, and they didn’t know it was happening, except for Alex. There’s a great photo of it, taken right as Eddie turns around and realizes what’s going on, and he’s totally losing it. He’s one of those guys who never fucks up. I’ve seen him play in so many different states, and he’s always on, but hearing him miss a couple notes while getting a laugh out of us was great.”
Check out Jerry Cantrell’s full interview with Jim Dunlop here.