Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett once believed that Alice Cooper’s cornflakes were singing and dancing for his entertainment
When Pink Floyd came to stay at Alice Cooper’s house in Venice Beach in 1968, Syd Barrett was in “a different headspace” Cooper recalls
In 1968, after the two bands were booked to play together at the Cheetah Club in Los Angeles, Pink Floyd came to stay with Alice Cooper, the band.
“Our band lived together in Venice Beach, in a small house on Beethoven Street, and we invited Pink Floyd to stay with us, as I think they’d ran out of money for a time,” Cooper told this writer in 2020.
The bands had bonded, Cooper recalls, after discovering that they both had the same primitive light show – “a box with lights on the floor, that you could play like a piano, to make the lights flicker” – and the American band were already fans of their English counterparts: “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was already a mainstay of our listening: we totally got it, because it was like us, so weird and left-field.”
As Cooper remembers, the friendship between the two bands made for some memorable incidents.
“While they were staying with us, we had an audition to play a Hollywood club called Gazzarri’s,” he says. “We asked the Pink Floyd guys if they wanted to come and watch us play, and they said, ‘Yeah, sure… oh, and you should have some of these brownies we made.’ So we ate these brownies, and of course they’re marijuana brownies, and about an hour later we were so ridiculously high that it seemed like the whole world was at a 45 degree angle.
“I think I fell off the stage a couple of times, Dennis [Dunaway, Alice Cooper bassist] almost fell into the drum kit, and the Pink Floyd guys were laughing their heads off watching. Early Alice Cooper music was so weird, and the higher we were, the more crazy it sounded, so I think we got the job, because the people at Gazzarri’s thought this was all part of our show.”
But while Pink Floyd were in residence chez Cooper, it became increasingly clear to Alice Cooper that the English group’s frontman, Syd Barrett, was in “a different headspace” to the other musicians.
“One night he got onstage, strummed one single chord, and got a shock from his guitar and mic,” Cooper remembers. “He stood there like a statue for an hour while the other guys just played around him.”
“Then one morning I walked into the kitchen and Syd was sitting with a box of cornflakes in front of him, laughing. And he goes, ‘This is really cool, watch them!’ I’d no idea what he was talking about, there was nothing to see. But he was so high that he thought that the cornflakes were putting on a little show for him, singing and dancing, and he was having the best time watching them: he thought it was the most entertaining thing on the planet.
“I left the room and I could hear him laughing to himself for ages. At that point, I kinda had the feeling that he may be on the way to losing his mind.”
Syd Barrett would leave Pink Floyd later that year.