Alice In Chains’ stage war with Van Halen

Staged battle: Jerry Cantrell
Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell remembers how a stage war with Van Halen came close to getting out of hand in 1991.
AIC were opening for VH and both bands had tried to disrupt each others’ sets with a series of pranks.
Cantrell – who recently observed he and his band are “pretty light guys” despite the darkness of their music – tells Jim Dunlop: “The Van Halen guys got us like four times in one set.
“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. Within a couple of seconds we were all dragging around huge wads of duct tape.
“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 in a Little Bo Peep outfit with some live sheep.
“At the very end, we were playing Man In The Box and their crew came out and started dismantling our entire set around us. They left Sean Kinney 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.”
Still, Alice In Chains got their revenge, says Cantrell: “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.
“So we took some of these panties and put them on, put on some combat boots, and made ourselves up as strippers. We 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 realises what’s going on, and he’s totally losing it. He’s one of those guys who never fucks up – hearing him miss a couple notes while getting a laugh out of us was great.”
Alice In Chains play the Download main stage today at 3.50pm.