• The title comes from Alice in Chains guitarist-songwriter Jerry Cantrell's father. "Rooster" was his nickname in Vietnam, where he fought in the war. The elder Cantrell wouldn't talk about the war, so Jerry crafted the lyrics based on what he thought where his father's feelings and experiences, told from his perspective.

    The song is about resilience, as the soldier get sent off to war, leaving a wife and child behind. He watches his friend die, and does his best to stay alive. They come to kill the Rooster, but he won't die.
  • Jerry Cantrell's father did hear the band perform this song. Jerry told the story in Guitar for the Practicing Musician magazine: "He's only seen us play once, and I played this song for him when we were in this club opening for Iggy Pop. I'll never forget it. He was standing in the back and he heard all the words and stuff. Of course, I was never in Vietnam and he won't talk about it, but when I wrote this it felt right... like these were things he might have felt or thought. And I remember when we played it he was back by the soundboard and I could see him. He was back there with his big gray Stetson and his cowboy boots - he's a total Oklahoma man - and at the end, he took his hat off and just held it in the air. And he was crying the whole time. This song means a lot to me."
  • The video was directed by Mark Pellington, who also did Pearl Jam's "Jeremy." The first minute is interview footage where Jerry Cantrell's father makes laconic statements about his war experience ("I watched my friends die").

    In addition to band footage, Pellington re-created Vietnam scenes in stark detail, even including a torture scene. He used an actor with a prosthetic leg so he could show him walking in one scene and then with his leg blown off in another. Lead singer Layne Staley is wearing sunglasses because he showed up high.

    Pellington later directed Arlington Road and The Mothman Prophecies, but at this point, he had yet to make a movie and was champing at the bit to do so. "I was really aggressively and ambitiously wanting to tell stories," he told Alternative Nation. "With videos it was hard to contain that narrative propulsion."
  • The song is cited by Paul Rudd's character as "real rock" in the Judd Apatow comedy This Is 40. Cantrell told Rolling Stone it was an honor to be included in the film. "We had heard Judd was interested in using that song in a scene and we were like, 'Of course,'" he said. "We're fans of his work as well, and it is really cool to see his love of music."

Comments: 61

  • Jake from St. Louis MoScott from Blackwood, thank you for sharing your expertise and obvious supior knowledge over the rest of us, along with your condescending tone and over exlpanation of things reallly not related to the topic, nor that we care about. Along with everyone that is on here bitching about why rooster, or who it was or you cant be this and that. Not sure what these commetns are attached to on your end of the interweb, but mine it's a video of the song Rooster by AIC, along with some song facts including part of an interview with Jerry himself. Anything in the lyrics not accurate is expected, Jerry states his father never talked to him about the war, so the song is what he imagined his father went through. His father's nickname was Rooster AS A CHILD, the 101st, patches or how they were percieved or nicknamed is pure coincidents. The song was written and titled soley because of his father having that nickname. People whining about the music video's accuracy, seriously? It was made in the early 90's by young grunge rockers, did you expect a biopic film starring Tom Hanks??
  • Austin from Oconto, WiThis is atleast one of my top favorite songs by AIC, right along with Man In A Box, and Check My Brain,
  • Moe from Kraft, Afghanistanawsome it was featured in termanator salvation
  • Austin from San Antonio, TxThey didn't mention that it was in the Terminator Salvation movie and Soundtrack (2009)
  • Charles from Burnet, Txwhen this song is playing in the background while your playing dead rising it kind of gets to you... :l expecially if your trippin O.o
  • Austin from Smallsville, New EnglandFrom a historical point of view. The French who once occupied Vietnam,symbol was a rooster. Which could have something to do with it.
  • Samuel A Rutledge from Tucson, Az, AzThe 101st Airborne Division wears the eagle on their shoulder. I am pretty sure Jerry's father was in the 101st, not First Cavalry. The 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions were always fighting on the frontline, and saw intense combat. That's what the song is about. And as previously mentioned, the Vietnamese confused the Eagle with a Rooster since there are no Eagles in Vietnam. The 101st Airborne Division, or "Screaming Eagles," are located on Fort Campbell, KY. I was stationed there as an artillery man for five years. Was there when we invaded Iraq...
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InI remember the video, but I had no idea that Cantrell's real dad was the man featured in it.
    Unfortunately, I did not see the part where he speaks.
    Either way, I have long liked this song.
    I usually like songs with something more to say than the typical sex or love theme, and this certainly is unconventional.
    Layne's vocals are so filled with despair.
    Then, the angry guitars kick in, and it just throws you over the top.
    Excellent song, and it really is a pity that Layne Stanley succumbed to his weaknesses.
  • Austin from Smallsville,new England, --After Layne Staley died Alice in Chains did a bennifit concert with Maynard James Keegan(Tool) doing the vocals to Rooster.
  • Phoebe from Belchertown, MaWow. I'm blown away almost every time I hear this. It's that powerful.
  • Judd from Seattle, WaThe name rooster was Jerry's dads nick-name in Nam. If you were in during those years you probably had a nick-name your own self (Mine was Nanook). Gloria in the song was Jerry's mom of course. What I understand, Jerry's dad was 1st Cav not the 101st. I was 1st Cav of the 1st armored Division. I drove a Sheridan ARAAV. Jerry's dad was a 60 gunner. Now they use the SAW, squad automatic weapon. It's 5.56 just like the 16.
  • Scott from Blackwood, NjOk, everyone did a great job trying to figure out what 'Rooster" actually stood for. Rooster, commonly known as teh tracer trail from a Machine Gun. While I served that Machine Gun was a 240, however during the Vietnam era up to about the mid to late 90's it was the M-60. When the M-60 or 240 are fired at the cyclic rate the tracer rounds look as if they are one orangish line. Now, up to about 700 meters the round will travel straight with no dip or rise. Around this time the tracer will start to dip, creating the arc like tail of a Rooster. Now at about 900 meters the tracer will burn out and that will end the rooster tail. Ok now for the Historical portion of the Rooster and why someone (Vietcong) would come to stop them. In a Fire Fight the Machine Gun is the most feared weapon. This is based solely on the fact that you can put an extreme amount of lead down range and with lead flying down range the enemy cant fight back as effectively. Snuffing the Rooster would mean a much more fair fight and one that any enemy would like to be involved with.
  • Jimmy from Nyc, CoWhen I worked in a mental health facility in Seattle in the early 90s, the fire alarm tech who would come around twice a year to check our system told me he was the "rooster" and was Cantrell's father. Also stated the song was pretty much how it was for him. His id for the fire alarm company did in fact confirm that his last name was Cantrell and he was telling me this not in a bragging way but just because he thought I looked like I was into the music (had long hair like everyone else in Seattle at the time), which I was. He was a totally down to earth guy and you could tell he was touched that his son wrote a song about him and what must have been a horrendous experience. However, other posts say its not about his dad but about his dad's buddy - possible, but what Jerry wrote the song about and what he told his Dad may be two different things.
  • Dale from Ky, Kyi cant believe that no one would bother looking for layne after a day i would start looking for him starting with his apartment he was in there dead for 2 week s before they found him. if you didnt know he died because he o.d. on heroin
  • Zak from Syracuse, NyThis song is clearly about vietnam, if you read the lyrics all of them relate to the war in some way.

    When i saw them live in 2006 with william devalle, they were amazing. i wasnt sure i was gonna be to fond of someone trying to be layne staley, but they were still just as amazing.

    R.i.P. layne
  • Frank from Brampton, Ontario, CanadaWhat a powerful ballad this is! This tune really moves me!
  • John from New London , NcIf I remeber corectly when this song came out, the song was about the guitarist's father who was an M-60 gunner which is where the line " Walking tall, machinegun man" came from.
  • Sherry from Fort Worth, TxIt so moves me
  • P from Z, United StatesJerry's father is in the video and speaks about his war experience. The look on Jerry's face shows how the memories of his father at war when he was young is touching. this isnt really a songfacts. dude who judges these things!!!! if you have an opinion to express make a comment, if it is a fact then post a song fact.
  • Casey from Blakeslee, Padamn what a great song, lyrics, the perfect timing, damn, i love it
  • Gondring from West Chester, Pa"this guy has no clue of what he talking about. You can't be a pilot and a sniper, dumbass. "
    I believe he was saying that Cantrell's father was the pilot who dropped off the sniper. Perhaps proper grammar would make communication clearer.

    Shame the video used 1st Cav ponies and not the 101st Roosters.
  • Ryan from Las Vegas, NvIf you watch the video the Soldiers are wearing the 1st Cav patch, not the 101st. I know because I spent 6 years with the Cav. Such a great song, too bad no-one caught this obvious mistake.
  • Lane from Vail, Az"Actually this song is not about Cantrell's father, it is about a sniper a friend of Cantrell's who was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam used to drop in Laos."

    That is no the whole entry but this guy has no clue of what he talking about. You can't be a pilot and a sniper, dumbass. And it is about Cantrells father seving in Nam.

  • Paul from Cincinnati, OhBesides the obvious Vietnam context, it just generally is very powerful and empowering.
  • Paul from Cincinnati, OhDefinitely the best Alice in Chains song.
  • Steve from Nyc, NyAnyone ever listened to this song and though, "Hmmm...didn't Carlos Hathcock just pass away?" God it's been 15 years since Jerry Cantrell made this song into what it is, but I have a hard time thinking he didn't also at least KNOW of Carlos Hathcock.
    An AR-15 fits into the same case my Fender Jazz fits into.

  • Bbs from Sa, Tx"Rooster" is a popular single by the grunge group Alice in Chains. The single came out in 1993 and is featured on their second official full-length album Dirt. The song was written for guitarist Jerry Cantrell's father, who served in the Vietnam War. The music video featured brutality and violence visually reminiscent of Apocalypse Now. Cantrell's father was a member of the 101st Airborne, who wore patches on their arms featuring a bald eagle. There are no bald eagles in Vietnam, so the Vietnamese referred to them as roosters.

    Jerry Cantrell on the song, from the liner notes of 1999's Music Bank box set collection: "It was the start of the healing process between my Dad and I from all that damage that Vietnam caused. This was all my perception of his experiences out there. The first time I ever heard him talk about it was when we made the video and he did a 45 minute interview with Mark Pellington and I was amazed he did it. He was totally cool, totally calm, accepted it all and had a good time doing it. It even brought him to the point of tears. It was beautiful. He said it was a weird experience, a sad experience and he hoped that nobody else had to go through it."

  • Josh from New York, Nyamazing harmonizing between jerry and layne. incredible.
  • Josh from Shelbyville, InI'm actually kind of shocked people would think this song is about drugs, if you just look at the lyrics you can tell its about war. Bullets don't really have much to do with drugs and the line "They spit on me in my homeland" reminds me of all the stories I heard about soldiers returning from Vietnam. This song is one of the best songs ever created.
  • Crazy from Istanbul, Turkeyenglish is not my first language, neither am i an american, nor have i seen the video for the song, however one need not be a genius to see that this is a song about vietnem war, especially at the part where the guitars start to come in hard, it is obvious that they are mimicking machine guns, the soldier "rooster" starts to shout and opens fire at enemy who were approaching, and I think he gets killed at the end.
  • Joe from Chicago, IlThe intro sounds way too much like Aerosmith's "Last Child"
  • John from Pittsburgh, Paohhh by the way ours was the only patch that was not that altercation!!!!
  • John from Pittsburgh, Pa101 airborne refered to as the chicken men because no one there knew what an eagle was....but they do now thanks, when the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace...........JIMMY H
  • Jd from Kenedy, TxEvery one is close, and some closer than others. According to the "official Alice in Chains web site" the song describes both sides of the war.
  • Kalin from Los Angeles, CaThe song is about Jerry Cantrell's father's experiences in Vietnam, which is why he is featured in the music video. Apparently, when Jerry initially wrote the song he brought it to his dad and asked him if he was at all accurate and his father said, "You came too close."
  • Ed from Melbourne, Australiayeh lines like "walking tall machine gun man, spit on me in my hone land" makes it clear it is abiout vietnam. Stella song
  • Patrick from Bardstown, KyThis song is about the experiences of Cantrell's father in Vietnam, however his nickname was not "Rooster". The Vietnamese ahd never seen an Eagle and had no word for it, which was the symbol of the First Division which Cantrell's father was in. These Vietcong referred to these soldiers as the Roosters when they saw their Eagle patches. So they song is about the enemy coping to kill the "roosters".
  • Billy from Boston, MaRooster is another classic Grunge song. these guys almost measure up to Nirvana as far as grunge goes. You, of couse see all of Zeppelin's influence in all of Grunge. Jimmy Page is the man!!!
  • Ashley from Some Hick Town, Inpersonily i like the song, and alice in chains, i think that the song is about his dad, when he was in vietnam. i love hearing everyone's views on songs... this is realy cool ^.^ ~n_ashes
  • Brett from Houston, TxI worked with a guy in Texas City, TX. who claimed to be "The Rooster" and also Jerry's father. He was an electrical superintendent for Raytheon. His Vietnam stories seemed real enough. Can anyone find out if Jerry's father worked for Raytheon?
  • Ben from Pine Bluff, Arim a f18 pilot and this is what i listen to before i fly, calms my nerves woohoo
  • David from Powell, WyActually this song is not about Cantrell's father, it is about a sniper a friend of Cantrell's who was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam used to drop in Laos. His nickname was Rooster and he was actually killed in Vietnam. I know this because I am friends with the friend who helped Cantrell come up with the lyrics. If you don't believe me, e-mail me and I'll get you in touch with the guy.
  • James from New York City, Nyactually this song is about vietnam when we withdrawed and when they came back they called everybody rooster they spit on mer in my homeland everybody was pissed they fought and also how they fought to survive in vietnam like aint found a way to kill me yet a bullet screamed to me from somewhere and wen his buddy dies they were like all torn up and what sucked most was how they came back and everyone gave them $h!t and were egged and spit at thats actually what its about sorry about the grammer i dont realy care
  • Jay from Edmonton, Canadatr.v. snuffed, snuff·ing, snuffs

    1. To extinguish: snuffed out the candles.
    2. To put a sudden end to: lives that were snuffed out by car accidents.
    3. Slang. To kill; murder.
    4. To cut off the charred portion of (a candlewick).
  • Jay from Edmonton, CanadaThis song is actually about the vietnam war and not drugs and I hardly think he'd pronounce the drugs with relation to his own father.
  • Elliot from St. Louis, MoAIC is one of the few bands I like better playing live. There sound is different, and it gives their songs different emotions and meanings. I encourage any big AIC fan to get their MTV Unplugged album, so they can see what I mean.
  • Andrew from Harrisburg, Paanyone who believes rooster is about drugs must be on drugs, if you listen you hear him sing "army green was no safe bet" and "bullets scream from somewhere" he also mentions mosquito death ie. malaria, and "they spit on me in my homeland" my father was in vietnam and he is not an alice in chains fan at all but he loves this song because he can identify with these lyrics
  • Kiddo from Curramulka, Iceland'Them Bones' is not about cocaine. It's from the realization that a person who has learned so much in their lives, knowledge, memories and all that, will be wasted when they die, and that they will eventually turn into dust. It's a bit of an anti-afterlife song, I think. Regarding Rooster, the fact that people thought this song was also about drugs proves how shallow some AIC fans were when reading lyrics. Not every song Cantrell or Staley wrote regarded drugs - their lives actually had/have other events in them, too.
  • Becca from Hamilton, CanadaI have one word to describe this song:AMAZING!
  • Steph from Ottawa, CanadaOne of the most powerful and haunting songs ever released! The video is graphic and disturbing and only serves to make the song even more powerful! I'm sure a lot of veterans can relate to its lyrics.
  • Mariah from Miami, FlWow, this really helps, when you look at the lyrics, you're all like, "What the hell?" But now I get it! =D Thanks, Van from Tampa!
  • Brett from Brooklyn, NyThe rooster is referring to the patch worn by the 101st airborne. Which is a black patch with a bald eagle on it. They don't have bald eagles in Vietnam so the Vietnamese called the paratroopers of the 101st the chicken men. It was not a disparaging remark but one of repsect as the 101st allways brought the fight to the enemy. The movie Hamburger hill is about the 101st I beleive. The 101st and 82nd airbone kept their color patches thru the whole war. Everyone else switched ot the subdued green and black patched we get issued today from about 1967 onwards. ALL members of the 101st& 82nd airbone as well as the 173rd airbone Brigade had to volunteer and pass jump school. Jimmy Hendrix was a paratrooper as well.
  • Hillary from Seattle, WaRooster is a gurrrreat song! I love Alice in Chains. RIP Layne Staley!
  • Larry from Arlington, TxSong is clearly about Jerry Cantrell's father, about his experiences in Vietnam and also how he and others returning from Vietnam were treated by Americans after the war.
  • Matt from South Point, Oh-Rooster- is about Jerry Cantrell's father who was in Vietnam. Lyrics such as "army green was no safe bet" and "got my pills against misquito death" (malaria) were distinct references to Vietnam. The rooster was a patch that infantry were during the conflict and when "they came to snuff the rooster" it wasn't to snort cocaine. That's for sure
  • Will from Mcallen , Txmany people think that the singing at the beginning of the song is a woman. its actually jerry cantrell. he used to be in a boys church choir in his home town.
  • Jake from Traverse City, Mi"them bones" is about cocaine, this song is about jerry cantrell's father and vietnam, the music video is very touching as he breaks down telling about vietnam.
  • Ben from Clemmons, NdJerry's father was in vietnam and saw many of his friends die. but yet he was lucky enough to return home. this is one of the few songs that IS NOT about drugs. and FYI there are only 2 AIC songs about cocaine.
  • Robbo from St.louis, MiSomeone told me its about herion.... my friend sayed he read it in his biography.... dunno if hese tellin the truth tho
  • Scott from Bismarck, Ndsnuff as in kill,first off and then you have the beginning "army green is no safe bet", or the line "haven't found a way to kill me yet"
  • B from Paris, United Statesi thought the song was about cocaine because it says "yea they've come to snuf the rooster'
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