One of the most interesting things about rock stars is their larger than life personalities. Many of them entertain us on stage with their dynamic, show stopping presence, entrancing voices, and mind-blowing talents. For some, when they leave the stage the show is over, but others let their leather clad persona leak into their personal lives and are unable to separate themselves from the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll image, taking the volume of excess from zero to eleven, every, single, day.
They play their music loudly, but they live even bigger, often partaking in over-the-top and dangerous pastimes, with beyond bad behaviour captured by fans, roadies, groupies, and the paparazzi. Some of these stars live in a perpetual state of adolescence, many suffering from full blown and dangerous addictions. Sure, these stories make excellent stories for rock bios, or episodes of Behind the Music, but they’re also activities not safe for anyone, even though their antics are the stuff that rock legends are made of.
Not many tabloids publish stories about the band who ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and sipped on tea after each show on a world tour, because it isn’t all that interesting. However, readers can’t wait to read about the celebrity who was wildly out of control and decided to go on a lengthy cocaine binge with their significant other or where they kidnapped people (Rick James actually did this twice). Nonetheless, here are 15 stories of legendary rock and roll debauchery at its best (or worst); you be the judge.
15. Keith Moon – Banned From Every Major Hotel
Some would say that Keith Moon, the former drummer for The Who, was the grandfather of bad rock star behavior. It would appear he made it his own personal mission to promote deranged antics that would now be considered pretty cliché. He trashed hotel rooms, ate horse tranquilizers like they were candy, and had nude cake fights. He truly believed it was his sole job to behave badly. One time, after leaving a hotel, he was convinced he’d forgotten something and insisted that the driver turn around and go back. When he returned, he raced into his room, picked up the television, and chucked it out the window and into the pool below. What he had “forgot” was that he needed to leave his signature path of destruction before moving on to his next location. The drummer also used to hit the road with a large supply of cherry bombs and other explosives, using them to destroy toilets pretty much everywhere he went. He was eventually on a permanent ban from the Holiday Inn, Sheraton, and Hilton for his toilet bombs.
14. Nikki Sixx – Came Back From The Dead
That popular Mötley Crüe song, Kickstart My Heart, is based on a real story of when Nikki Sixx died. Mötley Crüe embraced every possible stereotype of hard-rocking, metal stars imaginable, including their penchant for Girls, Girls, Girls and drugs, drugs, drugs. On December 23, 1987, after a night of partying hard with members of Guns n’ Roses and Ratt, Nikki Sixx took a fatal dose of heroin. He was revived from a heroin overdose after two minutes of clinical death, just like that infamous scene in Pulp Fiction, when two shots of adrenaline were stabbed directly into his heart. Instead of spending some time in the hospital recovering, or even at rehab reflecting on poor life choices, he left the hospital and hitchhiked back home. Sixx has said of the experience, “There was a cop asking me questions, so I told him to go f— himself. I ripped out my tubes and staggered in just my leather pants into the parking lot, where two teenage girls were sitting crying around a candle. They had heard on the radio that I was dead and looked kind of surprised to see me.” The girls gave him a ride home and a lecture on giving up drugs. He celebrated not dying that night with some more heroin.
13. Keith Richards – Snorted His Dad
There are endless jokes about Keith Richards being an undead, pickled, and smoked version of himself from the endless amounts of booze, drugs, and God knows what he’s ingested over the years. A number of years ago, Richards made headlines because of a response to a journalist’s question about what the most peculiar thing he’d ever snorted was. Keith’s answer was simple, “My father. I snorted my father. He was cremated and I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn’t have cared. It went down pretty well, and I’m still alive.” His manager insisted this was a joke. Odds are Richards wasn’t joking, after all this is the same man who mistook police raiding a party in his house in 1967 with uniformed dwarves and welcomed them with hugs because he was tripping on LSD. Richards also commented on being on a list of celebrities most likely to die for a decade. He was rather disappointed when he no longer topped the list.
12. Dave Navarro – Blood, Orgies, And The Playboy Mansion
Anyone who believes that it’s impossible to be too extreme for the Playboy Mansion is wrong. Dave Navarro, guitarist from the band Jane’s Addiction, managed to get himself banned from Hef’s place. In his book Don’t Try This At Home, Dave describes the incident that saw him chucked. It all took place in “the orgy room” with three female “friends.” Dave decided it was a good idea to shoot up in the middle of intercourse and then wrote on the wall with the syringe and his own blood. He tried to clean off the evidence, but they had the whole thing on video. Later, security guards were waiting for him outside of the room to permanently escort him from the property and asked him to never come back. Dave wrote, “All my life I’d wondered what it was like and here I was, at 30, squirting blood on the walls with 3 naked girls at my feet.” Party fails Dave, party fail.
11. Rod Stewart – Put Drugs In His Butt
Rod Stewart probably doesn’t seem like a bad boy rock star, particularly since now most of us see him hanging out in mom’s music collection with his feathered hair and come-hither expression. He certainly doesn’t seem dangerous when he’s played on the easy listening radio stations at the dentist’s office either. Back in his heyday, specifically the 1970’s, the Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? the singer had it pretty bad for cocaine. Here’s the thing about his cocaine addiction: he knew the damage the drug could do to his nose and wanted to protect it from the negative side effects of snorting (mostly septal perforations or holes, chronic infections, nosebleeds, and nasal deformity). That’s why he selected another method to ingest the drug. The star would purchase anti-cold capsules, replaced the regular medicine with cocaine, and then inserted them where the sun doesn’t shine, “enjoying” the effects of the drug as it dissolved in his rectum. Hopefully, by now he’s kicked that habit in the butt.
10. Boy George – Whipped A Fan With A Chain
For anyone who’s spent a good deal of time watching or reading rock bios, it’s probably no surprise that the Karma Chameleon, Boy George, has had his share of struggles with drug addiction. Unfortunately, Boy George didn’t leave his addiction in the 1980s with his chart-topping hits; he took them all the way into the 2000s. In 2007, a Norwegian escort named Auden Carlsen believed he was going back to The Culture Club’s lead singer’s home to participate in a nude photoshoot. To his surprise, Boy George really wanted to hurt him and he ended up handcuffed to a wall and beaten with a chain. A trial following the incident confirmed that both parties had ingested cocaine that evening. Boy George, presumably due to some cocaine paranoia, believed that Carlsen had hacked into his personal computer and decided the escort was going to “get what (he) deserve(d)” whether he liked it or not.
9. Duff McKagan – His Pancreas Exploded
This list would be entirely incomplete without explicit details of the escapades of members of Guns N’ Roses. In fact, one-time bass player Duff McKagan took this bad boy image to explosive ends. One day, he drank so much alcohol that his pancreas exploded because it was combined with his steady daily regimen of cocaine, proving to himself that his body can only take so much. When it burst, it swelled to “the size of a rugby ball” and then ruptured, leaking a lot of acidic fluids meant to remain within the pancreas. The acid was so potent it caused third-degree burns inside McKagan’s body. Duff miraculously survived saying, “It was a real, real wake-up call. It was a gentle relapse off the alcohol. I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks and it gave me time to really think about how I got there.” A word to the wise, don’t let your pancreas explode.
8. Peter Buck – Fought Flight Attendants
Some bands are better known for their sound than for their antics, and that makes it even more embarrassing when someone in the band acts like a crazy rock diva. REM is known for its philanthropy surrounding human rights, AIDS & HIV, and disaster relief; not for being bad boys. In 2001, about a week before the band was scheduled to perform at a concert promoting peace, lead guitarist Peter Buck got into some trouble on a flight to London. Apparently, Buck had been drinking on the flight and didn’t like the idea of being cut off. The guitarist fought two flight attendants over a yogurt cup, which exploded everywhere and shoved a CD into a snack cart (believing it would play music). He even tore up the yellow warning card the crew of the flight issued for his poor behavior while saying, “I AM R.E.M.” The pilot eventually air radioed the authorities. Later, Buck apologized profusely blaming a poor reaction between the wine he consumed on the flight and some sleeping medication saying, “I am very sorry for the incident, and, by course, very embarrassed about the whole thing.”
7. Ozzy Osbourne – Snorted Fire Ants
There are probably enough stories about Ozzy Osbourne’s hard-partying ways to fill a book. He started off his solo career in 1981 by biting a head off a dove, and in a 1982 Iowa concert, he bit the head off of a bat (although he thought it was plastic at the time). When you mix Ozzy and Mötley Crüe together for a 1984 tour, there is bound to be a whole lot of trouble. This tour was rightfully called, “The craziest drug- and alcohol-fueled tour in the history of rock and roll.” In something that cartoon parodies and rock legends are made of, Ozzy and Nikki Sixx decided to hold a contest to see who could be the most balling rocker. In the event that was highlighted in a bio penned by Ozzy’s wife, Sharon, Sixx set himself on fire, so Ozzy responded by snorting a line of ants (some of which came out of his mouth). There is some debate as to whether or not the ants were fire ants. I guess we’ll never know for sure.
6. Steven Page – Squeaky Clean Rocker…Coke In The Car
The Barenaked Ladies are a family-friendly band who was just about to release a children’s album when lead singer, Steven Page, literally went off the rails at the worst possible time. Back in 2008, officers were called to investigate a car oddly parked in a small town just outside of Syracuse, New York. The car was Page’s Prius and the driver’s side door was allegedly left wide open. While investigating, the officers spotted a man and woman at a kitchen table with cocaine in front of them. Turns out the drugging duos were Page and a friend (who he later married). The apartment was searched, more cocaine and marijuana was found, and the If I had a Million Dollars singer was arrested, but released on $10,000 bail. Page quietly left the band in the months that followed and has since pursued a solo career. Page says, “Once somebody gets caught with drugs, everybody brands them a junkie. Somebody gets kicked out of a bar for being drunk and people don’t automatically say they’re an alcoholic. I’m not making excuses.” Page says he’s grown up since then but has no plans to rejoin BNL.
5. Chris Robinson – Spit On A 7-Eleven Customer
A lot of stuff that we read about Chris Robinson (no matter how nice Kate Hudson claims the father of their son is) doesn’t paint him in the best light. A lot of it is more childish than rock and roll, including a bizarre incident at a convenience store. In 1991, following a concert in Denver, Colorado, the Black Crowes singer was livid when a clerk at 7-Eleven wouldn’t bend the rules and sell him alcohol after midnight. As he had his tantrum, another customer announced, “There’s the lead singer of the Black Crowes!” Another customer indicated she didn’t know who that was only to have a petulant Robinson insult her by saying she’d know who he was if she didn’t spend so much time eating Twinkies. Next, the rocker spat on the customer before storming out with two cases of beer under his arms. The singer was charged and pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace.
4. The Toxic Twins – Held Shooting Practice In An Abandoned Convent
There’s a reason why Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Steven Tyler have been affectionately nicknamed the “Toxic Twins.” They were always side by side and totally believed that anything worth doing, was also really worth overdoing. Known for racking up $100,000 hotel bills, they entertained groupies, trashed rooms, and gorged themselves on copious substances, again and again. In 1976, they worked on an album in a renovated convent in upstate New York. During this time they crashed their brand new sports cars, did a lot of drugs, and decided it was a great idea to hold firing practice; shooting guns in the attic, all simply because they could. Tyler once told Rolling Stone Magazine: “Jerry Garcia says that we were the druggiest bunch of guys the Grateful Dead ever saw. They were worried about us, so that gives you some idea of how f–ked up and crazy we were.”
3. Slash – Shadowboxed Monsters All Night Long
Slash’s autobiography reveals some pretty explicit details of his hard-partying ways. It was 1989, and he’d just returned home after two years of touring for the Appetite for Destruction album. He was bored, feeling out of place, and partying hard. He felt like his addiction was getting out of control, and decided to join Steven Adler in Arizona while he tried to scale back his habit. The amount of drugs Slash had brought himself to last four days was quickly gone. Soon, he spotted monsters on the other side of the curtains of his room, which he shadowboxed, all night long. By morning, he decided to have another line before hopping in the shower, only he saw another monster, and when he attempted to punch it, he put his fist through a glass shower door and completely shattered it. Next, he saw evil Predator-like creatures entering his room, and decided it was time to flee, dripping blood and was stark naked. He went into another room, hid behind a maid, ran into the lobby, and eventually hid in a shed on the fairway of a golf course behind a lawnmower. He wasn’t seeing monsters anymore by the time the cops arrived, and he gave his testimony, but he still told the story about the creatures that were trying to kill him. Steven Adler finally arrived and handed the naked Slash a pair of sweatpants.
2. Phil Spector – Habit Of Using Guns Against Other Rockers
A lot of people are probably thinking, “Who’s Phil Spector, and what does he have to do with Rock and Roll?” Phil is a songwriter and producer, who is the legend responsible for “the Wall of Sound” approach to rock and roll. He’s also certifiable. One time, he put a loaded gun to rock poet Leonard Cohen’s neck, and another time he fired a gun in the control room nearly taking off Beatle John Lennon’s ear. The most epic of his all fired up incidents would have to be when he held The Ramones hostage when they were working on the album End of the Century. Apparently, Dee Dee went looking for Joey and Phil and found them in a stairwell where Phil was waving around a pistol. Dee Dee announced he didn’t like having a gun pulled on him and that he was going to leave when Spector pointed the gun directly at Dee Dee’s chest and indicated that everyone was to return to the piano room. Spector locked the room and made the entire band listen to him sing, Baby, I Love You, over and over again, until 4:30 AM, when we assume he got bored and decided to wave his gun elsewhere. Phil Spector’s wild ways finally caught up with him and he was convicted of the murder of actress Lana Clarkson.
1. Def Leppard – They Coined A Sex Move
Some people are rock legends, others border on urban legends and warrant their own page in the Urban Dictionary. This is the case for rockers Def Leppard. Apparently, there is a sexual expression coined as “having a Def Leppard,” and this is meant to describe threesomes where two members of the group experience are a mother and daughter. Apparently, exploits with two generations were (or still is) a popular pastime of rock legends Def Leppard. The boys who brought you such musical lines as, “I’m hot sticky sweet from my head to my feet, yeah!” also, apparently, like to help mothers and daughters to come close together. Supposedly, they experienced so many of these “family affairs” that Def Leppard fans decided to turn their love for willing participants into a sex move. Seriously, who (and their mother) would actually say yes to this insanity? Regardless, they found enough people to turn this weird fantasy into a reality.
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