Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll aplenty
Inspired by new MTC production Birdland — the Simon Stephens-penned production about a rock star’s spectacular fall from grace — we last week looked at some of the big meltdowns by musicians over the years. This week we’re flipping it to look at the hedonists who flourished amidst the mayhem and some of the prime craziness that’s been left in their wake. Despite the old adage ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’ there have been plenty of amazing tales of excess (although we’re avoiding clearly apocryphal stories including Stevie Nicks’ strange coke habits, Zappa snacking on Beefheart’s shit and the old Stewart/Sharkey/John/Almond stomach pump furphy):
The self-proclaimed God Of Fuck has never been shy, but he perhaps went too far during a 2002 show in Michigan when a g-string clad Manson jumped on top of a bouncer’s shoulders and proceeded to (as was explained in court) “gyrate his hips, thighs and/or pubic area against [the bouncer’s] head, neck and/or face”. It’s a gross way to get a cool dinner story, but the bouncer cashed in with a nice civil settlement as well.
The Who’s party-loving drummer Keith Moon was mad at the best of times, but celebrating his 21st at the Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan he took hedonism to a new level. The post-gig party featured (apart from the obvious boat loads of intoxicants) nudity, fire extinguishers, exploding toilets, cars in swimming pools, insane damage bills, armed police, jail, hotel bannings and God knows what else. The boy could party.
Ever wondered what the title of GNR’s (terrible) covers album The Spaghetti Incident was (supposedly) referring to? Their chums Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee from Motley Crue had brokered a classy wager about who could go the longest on tour without having a shower whilst still scoring groupies, and it all came to a head (sorry) when a groupie going down on Sixx vomited her pasta dinner onto his shoes (amongst other places). So wrong.
Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter
The “king of funk” and his girlfriend were arrested (and eventually convicted) for holding a woman hostage for a week, forcing her to smoke crack cocaine and engage in sex acts, burning her with the cocaine pipe and pistol whipping her, possibly (but not probably) whilst playing Super Freak at an inordinately high volume. As Dave Chappelle would espouse; cocaine is a hell of a drug.
A lot of bands pretend to be dark or satanic, but Norwegian black metal mainstays Mayhem put their money where their mouths are. Long rumoured to be involved (alongside bands like Burzum) in the spate of church burnings which plagued Norway in the early-‘90s, when vocalist ‘Dead’ committed suicide at the band house the remaining band members made necklaces from bits of his skull. Your band is not hardcore.
A friend in need is a friend indeed. Aesop maybe said that, or was it Placebo? Anyway, when crazy old Iggy Pop was having a bad trot in the mid-’70s and was checked into a psychiatric hospital, his friend and mentor David Bowie did what any self-respecting buddy would do — he grabbed an even crazier friend (Dennis Hopper) and loaded up on drugs and smuggled them into the facility so that the Iggster wouldn’t have to face sobriety in such an unbecoming location (high friends in good places etc).
Their killer performance at Live Aid in 1985 really boosted Queen’s profile all over the world and the money started flowing in, so when hedonist extraordinaire Freddie Mercury turned 39 that September he organised the most lavish party in rock’n’roll history, complete with trolls, ogres, thieves, ballerinas, transsexuals and his trademark dwarves with trays of cocaine strapped to their head (every needs a little bump now and then). Beyond loose.
You might think that Ozzy Osbourne is messy these days, but during Black Sabbath’s pinnacle he was an absolute shambles. At San Antonio, Texas in 1982 Osbourne was arrested for pissing on the Alamo Cenotaph memorial — not the historical fort itself as lore would have you believe — but this is still akin to treason in those parts and he was quickly arrested and hauled off to the lock up, being released in time for that night’s sold out show.
Never been to a hotel where you can fish from the windows? Blame Led Zeppelin. Seattle’s Edgewater Hotel looks over Puget Sound and Led Zep’s entourage found that you could catch mud sharks from the safety of their rooms; now add eager, naked groupies to the equation and things get slightly disturbing. No need to go further, suffice to say it’s a good thing no one caught crabs that day.
Aside from the fact that he will most likely live forever, Stones axeman Keith Richards has certainly lived an interesting life full of wild adventures. He did get agitated when it was reported in the press that he’d mixed his father’s ashes with cocaine and snorted them, and went on record to set things straight — he had indeed snorted his dad’s mortal remains (as you do) but there was no drugs involved. There’s a first time for everything.