Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]
Dear whomever may read this:
Today is March 30, 1999. And today I heard about something that has to stop. You all know of the sick person named Marilyn Manson. I know someone who went to one of his concerts. He is abusing animals. He threw several puppies into the crowd before his show. And then he told the crowd that he would not start the show until the pups were killed. So, in conclusion, several puppies are killed at each Marilyn Manson concert. This is a sick thing that has to stop now. And we are the only ones who can stop it. This guy is a sick person. I am sending this to every1 on my buddy list, and if you could PLEASE send this to at least
Origins: There's nothing new about this rumor, just who it's about. Shock rocker Marilyn Manson has replaced Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne in the starring role of a vilification rumor that's been around for years.
Manson has neither slaughtered puppies himself nor incited audiences to do it for him, though that rumor has dogged his band since 1997. Similarly, in his heyday as every parent's nightmare and kid's delight, Ozzy Osbourne was said to have thrown a puppy into his audience and instructed fans to break its legs. And then there was Alice Cooper, who was said to have tossed a bagful of kittens to his fans, instructing them to tear the cute little furballs apart before he'd go on with the show.
Didn't happen. Not with Manson, not with Osbourne, and not with Cooper. This is a standard vilification rumor that gets trotted out and tarted up anew every time there's a new high-profile shock rocker on the scene.
Think about it. The ASPCA would be on these guys like ugly on a gorilla if so much as one lovable little puppy or fluffy little kitten came to harm as a result of a rocker's onstage antics. Although real animals have gotten mixed up in a shock rocker's stage show on two separate occasions, in both cases the experience was every bit as much a surprise to the performer as to anyone in his audience.
In 1982 Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a real bat. Not that he meant to — a fan tossed him something he believed was a rubber toy. Osbourne didn't fare too well in that encounter with the animal kingdom and had to endure a rather painful series of rabies shots.
In 1969 it was Alice Cooper who ran "afowl" of people's sensibilities:
"That was our very first big show," Cooper said. "And you know, the funny thing about the Toronto show was that we had no chickens planned at all; the chickens were thrown by the audience."
"We were on stage, we had feathers, we had pillows and we had CO2 cartridges. We used to break these open and then we would blast feathers all over the audience."
"And then somebody threw a chicken on stage. A live chicken. I was absolutely, I mean, I'm from Detroit, you know, I was never on a farm in my life."
"I figured, well, it's got wings, it's got feathers, it'll fly. I'll just throw it out there and it will fly away."
"I threw it in the audience, and the audience tore it to pieces! The next thing I was reading in the papers: 'He was geeking chickens on stage.'"
(If you're in the mood for other Marilyn Manson rumors, visit our page about his being confused for the lad who played Paul on television's The Wonder Years and our page about his becoming Evil Incarnate because a church youth group shunned him.)
No one understand how vilification rumors attach to shock rockers better than Alice Cooper. As he was quoted as saying in 1998:
Barbara "dogged by a rumor" Mikkelson
Last updated: 15 May 2007
Howell, Peter. "All the Music-Biz Mud That's Left to Rake." The Toronto Star. 27 December 1991 (p. D1). Macias, Chris. "Rock 'n' Shock." Sacramento Bee. 7 March 1999 (Encore; p. 16). Macpherson, Don. "No News Is Bad News for Celebrities." The [Montreal] Gazette. 15 November 1997 (p. B5). Pantsios, Anastasia. "Shockingly Normal; Alice Cooper Gives Audience What It Wants." The Plain Dealer. 31 August 1998 (p. E2). Strauss, Neil. "Ratings Debated for Concerts." The Plain Dealer. 2 December 1997 (p. E2). Walsh, John. "Master of Reality; Ozzy Osbourne." The [London] Independent. 29 November 1997 (p. 23). Williamson, Linda. "Who's Afraid of Nietzsche with Mascara?" The Toronto Sun. 29 July 1997 (p. 12).