Hard rock is a manifestation of garage rock, surf rock and psychedelic rock, and British blues of the 1960s. It was not until the kinks did this kind of guitar sound begin. Old speakers in London clubs provided a banged-up ratty sound. After a while, the bands started to like the sound the punctured and torn speakers in old amps made. That was a growly sound that would get you fired from a club gig until they started to like it and use it to their advantage.
Listen to what Howlin’ Wolf does with a guitar. Early distortion.
Howlin’ Wolf – How Many More Years – 1951
Link Wray – Rumble – 1958
Distortion, tremolo, and the guitar are dominant. It’s a riff.
Surf and garage coming together. Hard rock is developing.
The Chessman – Cant’s Catch Me – 1966
A hard, customized soundsystem. Volume to kick it in. A disaster at Woodstock and Altamont, crowds moving, in the wake of these two concerts. Rock and roll moves into arenas and out of outdoor parks. You can load up with gear and blast out your music.
Let’s go to Australia. AC/DC doesn’t form until 1973. But there’s a working-class youth that’s coming up that wants out of their lives. The bar scene is about rock music. Sounds a little like mid-70s Foghat.
Carson County Band-Morning Train – 1971
Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs -1971
Now we’re talkin’… That’s starting to sound like hard rock for sure. I love this!
Buffalo – Suzy Sunshine – 1972
The Valentines – Build Me Up Buttercup – 1972
Yea, that backup singer is Bon Scott. Hard to believe that one of the premier voices of 70s hard rock started out singing backup and dressed like that!
Marcus Hook Roll Band – Watch Her Do It Now -1973
Malcolm, Angus and their older brother George. So we’ve got two of the founding members of AC/DC. You can already hear the pull in the band between pop and rock happening.
Their older is working on her sewing machine and looks down at the steel label hammered into the machine that says, AC/DC – (alternate and direct current) and suggests it to Angus as a name for his new band. She also suggested the school outfit for Angus. She said he looked so cute in it but it became a snub at authority and school. He only zig-zagged on stage to dodge the bottles thrown at the bands in the hardscrabble roadhouse bars they played in.
Which brings us here…
There you have it.
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My uncle Jack used to work for Columbia Records back in the 60s. He was a well-known producer and had lots of connections in the music industry. When I lived in Los Angeles in the early 80s he was out there on business and called me to meet up with him for lunch.
I was happy to meet up with him. It would be nice to not only see a member of my family because it was my first time far away from home. But also because he was my favorite uncle. He was a brilliant guy with a lightning-fast wit. He was an easy-going dude that everybody liked.
I drove out to Century City in my 1969 VW minibus to meet him for lunch. We were joined by the former president of Columbia Records who was a buddy of my uncle’s. I remember it was cool to hang out with these guys and listen to their stories of the glory days of popular music in the 60s.
During his time in the business, my uncle met many musicians and celebrities like Andy Williams, and Barbra Streisand.
One story that stand out in my mind is when his buddy told a story about how the Jefferson Airplane had recorded a demo for Columbia and they didn’t like it and turned it down flat for a record deal. He said one of the guys in the band urinated into the planter in the corner of his office upon hearing the news. He said they later signed with RCA Victor and got an unheard of $25k advance to get on board with them. (which was a fortune in 1965) “They were a bunch of crazy people.” he said about the band.
Anyway, I always loved my uncle and still miss his wry wit to this day. But back to the story at hand.
Because my uncle was in the industry he would be given lots of vinyl demo albums to check out and review. Anything that was popular or mainstream he could relate to, but when he was given anything relating to classical music or opera, he would give them to his brother.
Which was my father. My dad loved classical music and opera and it was probably his favorite kind of music. Since my uncle was clueless to that kind of music he’d pass them to my dad to give him the lowdown on each orchestra and album.
This went on for many years and my dad got loads of free music to add to his collection. As a kid, I always wondered why on many of his record albums there was always a red stamp on the back. It read: “Not for Sale. This album is for demonstration purposes only.” Those were the ones my uncle gave him. If for some reason there was some unknown rock band in one of the many albums he gave him, my dad would pass it to me. Even as far forward as the late 70s. I remember my dad handing me the soundtrack to the animated film, Heavy Metal based on the comic magazine. It’s where I first heard the song, Mob Rules by Black Sabbath. There was even a record that consisted of a collection of songs by different artists, and one of them was a really old recording from the German metal band Scorpions (Whom I loved) it was a song called “Am I Going Mad?” from the album Lonesome Crow, which I didn’t even know existed back then.
Anyway, back in 1968, my uncle was chatting with my dad about music, and an interesting question came up. He said he had a buddy over at Decca Records that was working with a somewhat popular band from the UK. The group had been generating some buzz as an up-and-coming mod/rock band. They were trying to find their voice and identity and had released a few small hits.
Back in the 50s and early 60s, bands and singers only released singles. Short songs that were never longer than 3 minutes long. If that artist had generated enough popular songs in a period of time, the label l would put the songs out as a collection on an LP.
But the Beatles changed all that when they started to release albums of all-new material. No longer would albums be collections of hits but bonafide creative works of music.
But the main guy in the band over at Decca was a brilliant songwriter and wanted to take his band’s music to the next level. He came up with a unique concept. He ran the idea and played a few songs for his producer. It was a groundbreaking idea for an album that hadn’t ever been done before.
The producer over at Decca ran the idea by my uncle to get his thoughts on the subject. He of course spoke to his brother, (my dad) about it. My father listened intently to the idea and gave him this response:
“Do they have a libretto?”
“A libretto. Every opera has a libretto. It’s the text and the substantive ideas that inspire the composition, including the dramatic structure, characters and scenario of the opera.“
“Well, tell your friend that if this band is going to do some kind of opera, they’ll need a libretto so when people buy the record they can read along and know what’s going on with the story of the songs even if it’s in a different language.”
So my uncle goes back and tells all of this to his buddy over at Decca, and he tells the guy in the band who’s writing the album. He loves the idea and they decide to include a libretto with the new album. My uncle tells my dad and he’s happy he was able to help out based on his expertise with classical music and opera.
“By the way, Jack, what’s the opera about?”
“It’s about a deaf, mute, and blind boy who is abused as a child and becomes an incredible player at the game of pinball.”
“Okay, well that seems a little weird, but I hope they have success with that. Glad I could help.”
My dad obviously got a free demo copy of the album before it came out and turned me on to this incredible band and their music.
So my father had something to do with the creation of Tommy by The Who.
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These were my final day in New York. I had moved up there in 2005 for the company I was working for. By this point, I was working as a consultant for a firm that cleaned up smaller banks and credit unions. My office was at the corner of 34th and 5th Avenue, across the street from the Empire State Building.
I’ve written about their guitarist, Tony Iommi before in this blog. It’s quite interesting and will give you insight into how the Sabbath sound was accidentally created. Check it out!
Black Sabbath began in the late 60s and played with singer Ozzy Osbourne for most of the 70s. But when Ozzy became too drunk and drugged out he was kicked out of the band. He was replaced by Ronnie James Dio another godfather of metal.
I love the early Sabbath albums. The first four to be specific. But two of my favorite albums the band ever made are Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules made with Ronnie. They’re perfect bookends of the Dio Years.
The band was reuniting with Ronnie for a special tour called The Dio Years and we had to attend. The tour of North America would debut in Manhattan and that show would be recorded for an upcoming live concert DVD to be released in 2007. But they had just released a CD to refresh the memories of the fans of the Dio years.
One of the things that Duncan and I have always had in common was our love for hard rock and heavy metal. You can find our stories here.
He bought the tickets and flew up to the city and stayed at my apartment in Jersey City. We met up and hung out in the city. We went out to lunch together and even flirted with some old ladies in the restaurant. We were just being our usual mischievous selves. Two metalheads wandering around the city.
But by nightfall, we were gearing up for the show. After several drinks and Duncan smoking from a little one-hitter I got for him, we were ready to rock.
We went to the show and to be honest it wasn’t like any metal show we’d ever been to. Most shows we attended were a sweaty, drunken, drugged-out mess. I mean, we were always well behaved and just banged our heads in metal fury, but this was Radio City Music Hall. Security was super tight, and there was no smoking in the theater. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to RCMH but it’s a nice place. Really nice. Great acoustics to play and record a live show, but there would be no monkey business at that show. So the crowd was subdued.
Whenever the band played anything from Heaven and Hell or Mob Rules we would rock out. But if they played anything else they did with Ronnie, that was my cue to go get us two more beers.
The show was great and we had a great time as always. We got out of the concert exhausted. Of course, Duncan had a strong case of the munchies and immediately headed for a food cart. I stayed away from street meat but Duncan wasn’t hearing it. He proceeded to devour a couple of kabobs.
We made our way to the PATH train to get back to Jersey City, where I was currently residing. I was surprised how many people were on the same train at that hour and we were sausaged in there with a ton of other people.
We finally made it back to my house, and it was a race to the bathroom for Duncan. I told him not to eat food from a Roach Coach, knowing this could happen. But he was fine.
He crashed at my place, and the next morning he was to head back to Charlotte, North Carolina where he lives. I asked him if he could stay longer because the band was going to be at Best Buy in two days to do an album signing.
But Duncan being the consummate employee to the bank where he’s worked since 1993, said he had to go.
But, I was determined to go back to Manhattan and meet the band if possible.
Two days later, I headed back over to Manhattan. When I got there, the line of fans went out the door of the store, around the corner, and down the street. I got at the end of the line around 5 pm.
The great thing about having to wait in a long line to see your heroes is, you get to meet and chat with a bunch of other people that all have the same thing in common. We are all there for the same thing. So it’s not boring because you can trade stories and talk about the band’s music. It was a nice day, so I was happy to be there with my rock n’ roll brethren. I wished Duncan had stuck around but I really wanted to see if I could meet them.
After about an hour or so, I finally got inside the store. The limit was 3 copies of their new album. So, of course, I bought 3. When I finally got up front I took a couple of photos.
Of course, once I was in the eye and earshot of the band I made sure they heard me say in my best Dio impression, “I’ve been waiting so long to see you guys, I feel like I’m the last in line!”
(That’s a line from a Ronnie James Dio song and I got a laugh from the band!) Yes!
But the best part was actually meeting the godfathers of heavy metal. When it came to my turn, I had all of the CDs open and had pulled out the liner notes to get them signed. I dropped them onto the table in front of Tony Iommi. I put out my hand and he took it to shake.
“Thank you for 40 years of joy, Mr. Iommi.”
“Your welcome. It’s been my pleasure.”
I was so caught up in the moment of meeting one of the gods of rock, I wasn’t paying attention to where my liner notes they were signing went. I looked down and they were gone.
“Hey, where’s my stuff?”
A voice came from the man sitting next to him. “I think they’re moving down that way.”
I looked over, and those words came from the mouth of the man himself.
“Thank you, Ronnie James Dio!” I shook his hand and it was a glorious moment to stand before the golden voice of all British heavy metal. He looked really old and small, but I knew in my heart that tiny gnome held great power. He signed my stuff and passed it down to none other than Geezer Butler! The man who wrote many of the great Black Sabbath songs.
I shook his hand as well and thanked him for all of the joy he and the band had brought my friends and me over the last four decades. Vinnie Appice had replaced drummer Bill Ward for health reasons so it was no big deal to meet him. (Sorry, Vinnie)
I walked outside with a guy I had met in line, and we carefully held all of our liner notes out to let the sharpie signatures dry. We headed over to a bar and shared a laugh and a beer.
It was a beautiful few days in my life and a nice cap to my time in New York. In two months I’d be living in Pennsauken, New Jersey with my ex-mother-in-law. But that’s another story.
But there’s more… keep reading!
Philadelphia, PA – 2010
I was living in Philadelphia by now and working at Philly.com. I was doing well, had a beautiful girlfriend and everything was right in the world. (As much as it could be)
I heard that Ozzy Osborne was going to be at the Borders book store at the corner of Broad and Chestnut. (Now a giant Walgreens) After work, I headed over there. I bought a copy of his new book and got in line. It started on the first floor and went around the store and upstairs. Ahh… always a line to see the gods of rock.
Ah, who doesn’t love a good horror story? Especially if it involves your favorite rockstar? Ghost sightings may be a tad overrated (almost everyone claims to have seen or felt some mystical presence and there’s hardly any proof) but it’s still interesting nonetheless. Could legendary rockers be trying to contact the living? Did they really try reaching out to former bandmates and colleagues? Do they have any unfinished business or some messages they want to send?
Is it even true or just a product of someone’s overactive imagination? But to be fair though, strange, tragic and unexpected deaths occur commonly not just in rock ‘n roll. So it’s not exactly far-fetched to think that there are restless souls just wandering around maybe in cemeteries or recording studios.
This list is a compilation of all those horror stories. Keep in mind that these are nothing but claims, there’s no way we can verify any of them. So, are you ready?
P.S. Try to keep the lights on.
10. Elvis Presley
He was only 42 years old when reports came in that he died of sudden heart failure. There were plenty of speculations surrounding his death though and some say the cause is polypharmacy due to the number of prescription drugs found in his system.
It was devastating for fans. And until today, there are still people who believe he’s still alive. But the thing is, there are various ghost-sighting claims of him in the hallways of his Graceland Mansion. Another story goes that in the old building (which used to be the RCA Records Studio but was converted into a TV production facility) where Elvis Presley recorded “Heartbreak Hotel,” strange things would happen when Elvis’ name is mentioned.
“Well, the human being is one thing. The image is another. It’s very hard to live up to an image.” – Elvis Presley
The crew members in the studio claimed that during a show, when someone mentions The King’s name, the sound system would produce an unexplainable noise or the lights would turn off – you know, stuff that happens in horror movies.
9. John Lennon
John Lennon’s death was nothing short of tragic. Even today, speaking about it is both spine-chilling and heartbreaking. And so, it’s not exactly “impossible” for his restless soul to wander around the earth. And there are not one but two accounts of his supposed visits to the living.
The first one is from the remaining Beatles who got together in 1995 for a studio session. George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney were recording “Free as a Bird” and when they posed outside for a photograph, a rare white peacock was included in the shot at the very last minute.
“I said to the other guys, ‘That’s John!’ Spooky, eh? It was like John was hanging around. We felt that all the way through the recording.” – Paul McCartney
In 2009, John’s son Julian Lennon also claimed he was visited by his father. It was when he was handed a white feather by an Aboriginal tribe elder. Before his death, John told Julian: “If anything ever happens to me, look for a white feather and you will know I am there for you, always looking out for you.” When we think about it, we get major goosebumps.
8. Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison has had a long-standing fascination with shamanism and the spirit world. He even wrote the poem “The Ghost Song.” So him making a comeback to probably scare off his former bandmates is something Jim would do – the man clearly liked to have fun.
The Doors’ Ray Manzarek said in one interview:
“I have a recurring dream. Jim has just returned from France [where he died in 1971] and has accomplished what he went there for in the first place – to rest, get clean, change his rock star lifestyle. We talk about where he’s been and what he’s been doing. I ask him if he’s been working on any new material, and just before he answers, I wake up. When I first told Robbie about it, he said, ‘Yeah, me too!’ He had had the same dream.”
The thing is, if we believe Ray, we’d have to be 100% certain Jim’s really dead because according to some crazy conspiracy theories, he faked his death and is currently living in seclusion. So, which is which?
7. Cass Elliot
This is perhaps one of the most famous ghost stories out there.
While staying at a flat in London, Cass Elliot died in her sleep with her death ruled as “heart failure due to fatty myocardial degeneration due to obesity.” She was 32 years old. Based on the autopsy, there were no drugs found in her system. Four years after that incident, Keith Moon of The Who also died in that very same room.
You’d think that’s the place she haunts but no. Remember the Ghostbusters guy Dan Aykroyd? He claims that Mama Cass’ ghost haunts his Hollywood home once owned by Cass.
“A ghost certainly haunts my house. It once even crawled into bed with me. The ghost also turns on the Stairmaster and moves jewelry across the dresser. I’m sure it’s Mama Cass because you get the feeling it’s a big ghost.” – Dan Aykroyd
Before you dismiss Dan’s accusations, actress Beverly D’Angelo also made the same claim when she bought that house back in 2007. We don’t know what kind of “run-ins” she’s had with Cass though – maybe lights blowing out or small items moving around.
6. Kurt Cobain
So far, all the “ghosts” on this list are from the restless souls of rockstars who died sudden or tragic deaths. If spirits really roam our world because of unfinished business, we’re fairly certain anyone from John Lennon to Mama Cass had plenty of them.
Kurt Cobain falls under the same category. He may have taken his own life but some theories still suggest that he was actually murdered. Still, that doesn’t take away the fact that there were several reports of sightings in a couple of places that even attracted “ghost hunters.” The most well-known haunted spot is a bench. This bench is in Viretta Park in which is across Kurt’s house in Seattle, Washington.
“If there was a Rock Star 101 course, I would have liked to take it. It might have helped me.” – Kurt Cobain
There are plenty of fans visiting the area on a yearly basis and most of them say they could feel Kurt’s presence anywhere near the bench. Some even believe they saw his ghost lingering on it.
5. Gram Parsons
Gram Parsons died of morphine and alcohol overdose in his room at the Joshua Tree Inn. Now, there are claims that the motel room remains haunted. And so, for everyone who’s in for a bit of scare, they would definitely check in to Room 8.
“It’s definitely our most popular room. It’s amazing how much it means to people — people of all ages, really. Some of the people weren’t even born when Gram died here.” – Joshua Tree Inn rep speaking to The New York Times
Just how scary? Well, claims vary but there were those who spotted him walking across the pool at dawn. The staff members also say they see apparitions of the legendary musician.
Country singer Kacey Musgraves shared her experience while checking in at the motel. A painting was in the room high up and when she came back, it was propped on the couch even though no one else went in there but her.
4. Sid Vicious
We all know the tragic deaths of Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen.
On October 12, 1978, Sid found Nancy on the bathroom floor of their room in Hotel Chelsea bleeding to death. He was charged with her murder and he attempted to commit suicide several times after that. Less than four months later after completing a detox program, his mother discovered his body – he died of an overdose.
Now, there were reported sightings of him and Nancy at the Hotel Chelsea usually in his own Room 100 and also in the elevator. Some spotted him closing and opening doors. And guests inside Room 100 claim they hear a couple arguing, someone playing loud music, and even temperature changes.
“We had a death pact, and I have to keep my half of the bargain. Please bury me next to my baby. Bury me in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Goodbye.” – Sid Vicious’ note found in his jacket pocket
The hotel even sells Sid Vicious dolls at the front desk. They aren’t the only ghosts ‘residing’ there though.
3. Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly was only 22 years old when he died tragically. He was a prominent figure in rock ‘n roll and he has influenced several legendary musicians like Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and The Beatles. He was killed in a plane crash along with fellow musicians like Richie Valens. Because his body was ejected from the plane, he had fractures, lacerations, and a fatal trauma to his head and chest.
Several residents near the crash site in Clear Lake, Iowa claim that they often see a phantom plane near the area in addition to some ghostly lights.
“I just want to say that one time when I was about sixteen or seventeen years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play … at a Duluth National Guard Armory and I was three feet away from him. … And he LOOKED at me. And I just have some kind of feeling that he was — I don’t know how or why — but I know he was with us all the time when we were making this record in some kind of way.” – Bob Dylan
Apparently, he also haunts his homeroom class in Lubbock High School because there were reports that his music can be heard even if there’s nobody in the building and the door’s locked.
2. Hank Williams
Speaking of unfinished business, oftentimes it’s not really surprising that the souls of these rockstars linger long after they’ve departed our world. The King of Country Music was set to perform at a New Year’s Day concert in Ohio. He was being driven by Charles Carr who stopped at a gas station to refuel. That’s when he realized Hank was dead in the back seat of his Cadillac. The official cause of death was “insufficiency of the right ventricle of the heart.”
There were several claims of ghost sightings in various locations but more notably at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN where he made his Grand Ole Opry debut. From seeing a white mist on stage to his voice echoing through the halls – sometimes, the ghost goes so far as stomp around loudly or try to crash some things backstage.
“Hank had a voice that split wood. From his records, it sounded like he was projecting from a completely different place in his body.” – Beck via The Rolling Stone magazine
He’s not the only who haunts the Ryman Auditorium though because the place is pretty famous for being haunted by soldiers and other country artists too.
1. Jimi Hendrix
New Haven, Connecticut has so many ghosts you can actually go on a walking tour and visit various haunted houses. So if you’re looking for a good scare, it’s the place to go. From faint piano music playing from under the lake to demonic dolls, there’s no shortage of spook here. And as it turns out, even our favorite Guitar God has taken up residence here – at least if you believe the stories.
Jimi Hendrix is often “heard” playing at the Woolsey Hall in Yale University. Why there? Well if you can recall, he performed with his band there back on November 17, 1968.
“I like after-hour jams at a small place like a club. Then you get another feeling. You get off in another way with all those people there. You get another feeling, and you mix it in with something else that you get. It’s not the spotlights, just the people.” – Jimi Hendrix
To be honest, though, we’d do anything to hear him play again.
Wanna be a better guitarist? Click this link to learn the secret!
If there’s one universal truth to parenting, it’s that whatever songs your kid listens to will end up on repeat in your head at 3 a.m. Most of the time we’re fighting off tunes about frogs or balloons or shapes from Little Baby Bum, or we’re reluctantly humming a particularly annoying little ditty about a family of sharks (and just like that, dear reader, it’s now in your head too. Sorry).
Look, we have the power — the obligation — to introduce our kids to better music, for their sake, and very possibly, our own sanity. Nursery rhymes are adorable and learning-shapes songs are valuable. But with the state of things around us, social distancing and staying at home can provide a great opportunity for parents to expose their little ones to better music, some even with helpful life lessons.
We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite kid-friendly albums from what we dub the “Golden Age of Rock,” the classic oldies of rock ‘n’ roll from the ’50s through the ’70s, to help create a fun music experience for you and your kids. So, clear the living room, turn off the TV and fire up the record player (or Spotify playlist) and, hopefully, get to dancing.
The Great Twenty-Eight
Chuck Berry defined the sound and spirit of rock ‘n roll, so it’s only right that our kids hear his music. This compilation album, which Rolling Stone ranked No. 21 on its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, starts off with the toe-tapping “Maybellene,” and kids just know what to do when songs like this come on. Later on the album is “Johnny B Goode,” a fun opportunity for you to mention a great scene in Back to the Future when Marty McFly baffles everyone at a dance with a rendition of this hit. This album is a necessary lesson on the roots of rock ‘n’ roll. Nicknamed the “Father of Rock ‘N’ Roll,” Berry was a major influence on decades of music that followed him.
Here’s Little Richard
With lyrics that go “A-wop-bop-a-loo-lop a-lop-bam-boo,” “Tutti Frutti” is probably the most fun a kid will have singing to a song, and the second you drop a needle on this track, your toddler will light up. It’s the opening track on Little Richard’s 1957 debut album Here’s Little Richard, which also includes “Long Tall Sally (The Thing)” and “Slippin’ and Slidin’ (Peepin’ and Hidin’)” Simply put, these are just fun songs.
The Beatles helped define 20th-century rock ‘n’ roll, but not before dominating the pop charts. If we had told fans of the hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand” that the same band would later be making songs like “Helter Skelter,” they wouldn’t have believed us. But, there’s one album, in particular, that is a great introduction to the Beatles for kids, and has both the catchy, pop-like melodies that launched the Fab Four to stardom, but a little more meaningful message than the idea that they want to hold your hand. And it seemingly has no references to drugs yet: Rubber Soul. It’s said that Beatlemania ended on Dec. 3, 1965, the day the record hit the shelves. It was the album that saw the Beatles as men, not boys, similar to a teenager coming of age. And tracks like “Nowhere Man” explored John Lennon’s own dealings with inadequacy.
David Bowie is a great artist to introduce to kids early on because he took on many alter-egos, opening up the possibility of a young person to find one that relates to their own personality. His music explores fantasy-like storylines, and he always encouraged young people to be themselves –– no matter how weird. His 1971 album Hunky Dory is especially great for kids, and the song “Changes” reflects those ever-changing personas. He also wrote the track “Kooks” for his first son, which is a great song to dedicate to your own children.
We’re the last people to reduce the fantastic music of Wings to “just another Beatles band,” but once your child realizes that the Beatles broke up in the summer of ’69 and are left wanting more, they may want to hear what one Beatles head songwriter, Paul McCartney, made in the ’70s. Only two years after John, Paul, George, and Ringo parted ways, McCartney co-founded Wings with his wife. Yes, we’re recommending a “greatest hits” album, but it’s a great start for kids, or anyone, who hasn’t taken the time to listen to the band before. It’s a fun record that highlights the best of a great band.
This album is packed full of emotional ’70s folk-rock ballads. But track four, “Brand New Key,” recalls the innocent days of young love. A particularly adorable song from singer-songwriter Melanie, “Brand New Key” follows a young, empowered girl thriving off confidence and nudging a crush to play along as she roller skates along — and it’s super fun to dance to. The rest of the tracks are probably more fitting for a teenager, as it covers a lot of heartbreak, but it’s also a great introduction to blues-rock.
Another Side of Bob Dylan
Is your child an aspiring poet or songwriter? Look no further than Bob Dylan to inspire that creativity. And his fourth studio album, 1964’s Another Side of Bob Dylan, is a great introductory album for your little one. OK, this is a folk album, but Dylan has become an influential figure in rock ‘n’ roll. Like the album title suggests, this was the first album Dylan released that didn’t reflect his usual politically driven songwriting, making it easy listening for kiddo. In fact, it played on his humor quite a bit too. Give “All I Really Want to Do” and “I Shall Be Free No. 10” a listen with the kids around for a good laugh. “To Ramona,” though, shows Dylan at his best on this album. A beautiful, lullaby-like song, the melody alone is likely to capture your child’s attention.
The Beach Boys
Endless Summer / Pet Sounds
It’s hard to decide which album is best for introducing your little one to when it comes to The Beach Boys. Endless Summer, a great album for those summer pool days in the backyard, captures the best of The Beach Boys’ 1963-1966 catalog. Be sure to pick up the vinyl reissue that includes “I Get Around,” “Surfin’ USA” and “California Girls.” These are all great introductory songs to surf rock and capture a great slice of the band’s career. You can almost feel the warm sun and sound of the hot rods driving by.
Pet Sounds is universally regarded as The Beach Boys’ best album. So, go ahead and save your kid the future embarrassment of admitting they haven’t heard this album by introducing it to them now. It begins with the super catchy tune “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” which captures the thoughts we have when we’re lovesick teenagers. It’s been said that Beach Boy Brian Wilson was aiming for tracks that kids could relate to on this album, and we think he did a pretty good job.
The Monkees Greatest Hits
Yeah, we’re recommending another greatest hits album. But look, this one cuts out some of the more experiential songs the band did (oh, you didn’t know about that?) We’re not going to recommend that you introduce your kids to The Monkees by having them watch the film Head, or listen to The Monkees’ soundtrack for it. Trust us. And, The Monkees didn’t have an endless catalog of amazing songs, but the hits they did have are upbeat, really fun, and definitely kid-friendly.
Mr. Tambourine Man / Turn! Turn! Turn!
This double album (not to be confused with a greatest hits album) was partly taken from earlier writings from Bob Dylan. It contains Dylan originals in a pop-rock-friendly tone, including: “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Chimes of Freedom,” “All I Really Want to Do” and more, so it’s a great opportunity to show your child how songs can be made differently.
Dusty in Memphis
Dusty Springfield was an anomaly among the usual British female pop stars of the 1960s. Her voice was deep and rich, and her music sounded not unlike the hits coming from Motown or Stax. Her singles include “I Only Want to Be With You,” “Wishin’ and Hopin'” and “Son of a Preacher Man.” The latter of which is on one of the singles from her best-rated albums, Dusty in Memphis. A hallmark of the oldies we so love to wax nostalgic, Springfield’s music is a great lesson in love, and perfect for any lovelorn preteen.
20 Golden Greats: Buddy Holly Lives
Buddy Holly was a pioneer in 1950s rock ‘n’ roll, with hits like “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be the Day.” His signature “hiccup,” unique spin on rockabilly and as-innocent-as-can-be songs make him perfect for introducing a young person to rock ‘n’ roll. After all, he’s said to have inspired greats like Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Unfortunately, he died shortly into his blossoming career, so his discography mainly includes compilations. But 20 Golden Greats: Buddy Holly Lives is listed on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and includes tracks he made with The Crickets — his band he played with before going solo.
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The annals of music history are rich with tales from the road — stories of questionable behavior, catastrophes in transit, run-ins with the locals, and shenanigans of the most bizarre and extreme order. Who could forget the infamous Led Zeppelin mudshark incident, or that time Frank Zappa was nearly killed when a crazed concertgoer, incensed by his girlfriend’s infatuation with the musician, pushed Zappa off the stage at London’s Rainbow Theatre?
Such anecdotes have become an art form, a time-honored tradition in the culture of any genre of contemporary music. Thousands of biographies and memoirs recount the exploits of musicians on tour. And the notion of the “crazy tour story” hasn’t disappeared as legendary musicians hang up their boots or pass on to that great gig in the sky.
A new crop of bands and artists has taken up this mantle, constantly refilling the anecdotal coffers with fresh tales of mayhem. Sure, there are sexed-up narratives to be told, but the typical “so I took her back to the tour bus” story only has so much mileage to it. Wilder is the violent episodes, the truly catastrophic stuff. And while the escapades of big-name artists can prove droll, those of grassroots, touring bands are often more intriguing.
Today, there’s an entire subset of the music industry, and innumerable careers, dedicated to chronicling such noteworthy events. Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, MTV News and TMZ — a dazzling array of media outlets keep us fully abreast of on-the-road monkeyshines of musicians from any stratum of fame, from one-hit wonders like Afroman, who recently made headlines for delivering a haymaker to a fan who was unlucky enough to be dancing behind him onstage, to superstars like Justin Bieber (no one’s forgotten what you did in Germany, Biebs). Outside the realm of celebrity, though, musicians are still getting into trouble, and their tour stories continuously add to the canon of lore that has come to define the archetype of the traveling musician.
“This is what rock and roll is all about,” says “Evil” Jared Hasselhoff (real name: Hennegan), bassist for the raunchy pop-rock group The Bloodhound Gang (think, “You and me, baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals”►). He’s talking about a night in New Orleans 10 years ago, when he was working as a roadie on the Jägermeister Tour with Slayer, Archenemy, and Hatebreed. He tells this story between an anecdote about going to court to testify against some young punk (“this fucking ballbag”) who graffitied the Gang’s RV in Towson, Maryland, and a tale about filling his manager’s briefcase with old sushi one time in Berlin.
That night in New Orleans, the tour package was playing the House of Blues, and after soundcheck, Jared had gone to the Harrah’s next door to gamble a bit. “I made a huge mistake and had some mall sushi,” Hennegan says. The raw fish made Jared’s stomach churn and roil. He felt what he was sure was just a substantive fart building up, and he let ‘er rip. Unfortunately, Hennegan got more than he bargained for and his bowels voided themselves at that moment. “There was at least a solid cup of shit,” he claims. Jared’s stomach rumbled again and his gut expelled another wave of noxious waste. “It was everywhere,” he says. “It was, like, a quart of diarrhea.” Soiled, shit-stinking, and sick, Hennegan retired to his hotel room to lie down.
Several hours later, Evil Jared was back in action, hanging out with some other roadies in the venue’s VIP section. But the scene was grim: “No broads there; not a looker in the lot.” He grabbed the tour manager and headed to the bar next door, where they were soon approached by an enthused fan. “I think she’s half-Mexican, but she’s pretty hot,” he says.
“Yo, I know you work with the bands,” the girl proposed. “I’ll do anything if you get me into the show.”
Now, you might think you know exactly what happened next, but if you’re picturing a sordid, back-room exchange, you’d only be half-right. Evil Jared handed the girl “a shot of insanity hot sauce,” which she put down without issue. Then she took another. Jared escorted her backstage to the VIP section and went back to his hotel room to watch TV, while the girl proceeded to attack with gusto the green room’s generously stocked open bar.
Two hours later, Hennegan was back at the House of Blues and had run into a hot-sauce girl. “This is the guy who got me in!” she screamed, hammered after a go at the open bar. She threw her arms around Jared and shoved her tongue into his mouth. “We weren’t really making out, more like she was molesting me,” Jared offers. She was sloppy, but that was hardly a deterrent. Wanting privacy, Jared took the girl through the back of the venue to a quiet area, pulled open a door, and stepped into a small room. “Even working for Jägermeister, making out with some pissed-up slapper in the middle of the VIP area is frowned upon.”
“I realize we’re in the trash room,” he says. The couple was literally surrounded by gargantuan piles of trash, heaped high and probably smelling like the contents of Jared’s underwear earlier that night. Things started getting hot and heavy between the two, and suddenly, the girl stopped the action to make a request. “I’m on the rag right now,” she said, before asking Jared to place himself someplace fairly uncomfortable. “She asked me to fuck her in the ass,” Jared says.
“I think she was from Memphis,” he concludes.
The Cinder Block Brawl
Daniel Bray, a Toronto-based photographer, was on the road with the hardcore group, The Holly Springs Disaster, when the tour ran into some trouble with the residents of Stouffville, a small town in Ontario. The tour package had played an “awesome” show, and the bands were loading out when “out of nowhere, a hail of rocks and chunks of red bricks came raining down on us.” The groups turned to see two kids chucking stones from an empty lot nearby, and sent four or five guys over to deal with the situation.
They broke Hayden’s leg! Bray heard minutes later. “One of the dudes named Hayden, from one of the Calgary bands on tour, went over there to stop these kids who were throwing bricks,” he says. “And one of them picked up a full-size cinder block and threw it at Hayden, and it broke his leg badly above the ankle.”
While Bray stayed with Hayden to administer some rudimentary first aid and help him into a fan’s car, the rest of the tour package went off in search of the culprits. Heading back to the venue, Bray saw a kid dash past him, holding a skateboard, with eight guys in hot pursuit. Bray followed.
“I’m not sure who got to him first,” Bray says, “but they caught up to him right behind the backstop for the ball diamond. They tackled him and had him up against the chain-link [fence], feeding him punches, in no time. Everyone else joined in as soon as they got there.” The entire tour package laid into the kid, using his skateboard as a weapon against him.
One guitar player broke his hand on the kid’s face. “You know those oil barrels that are used as big garbage cans?” Bray asks, “I saw one of those full of garbage dumped on the guy then the barrel thrown at him. We beat this guy up till he was limp.”
A few minutes into the beating, two cops watched from the safety of their squad car. “Alright boys, he’s had enough,” said one, emerging from his car to drag the bloodied youth away from the melee. “The other cop told us that this guy was the town’s biggest shit disturber,” Bray says. “He fucked with every single band that came to town, and no one ever did anything about it.” According to Bray, the cop was “stoked we put an end to [the kid’s] shenanigans and taught him a lesson.”
Greyhound to Hell
It’s not unusual to hear of out-of-town bands getting into altercations with local folk, especially in rural areas and red states. Once, while on tour, I nearly found myself the victim of a hate crime in Knoxville, Tennessee.
I had been working for a tiny record label on the 2010 Vans Warped Tour for six weeks, hawking my solo album in parking lots and spooning bags of ice while sleeping on the floor of our 15-passenger Ford van, “Connie.” The day after the Atlanta stop of the tour was to be an off-day, to give us time to make the drive to Cincinnati while those bands lucky enough to ride in buses had the chance to do some volunteer work. We woke up that morning in the empty parking lot of the festival grounds where the tour had stopped. We were freaked out. We’d heard gunshots nearby the night before.
We stopped at a gas station — where some guys pulled up next to our van and tried to sell us a VCR — and discovered the card we’d been using to gas up had expired. All we had was a couple of hundred dollars in the cash box, just enough to get the van back to our home base in D.C. The owner of the record label and I made the call to send the rest of our entourage back to D.C., giving them the cash to finance the trip. We would continue on to Cincinnati to shore up our contacts, as we assumed we’d want to get on the tour the next summer. We headed to the nearest Greyhound station to buy bus tickets.
Outside the station, we killed time waiting for our bus, crushing up Vicodin into a mason jar that’d once been home to moonshine-soaked berries. We mixed in some raspberry schnapps and some Svedka and drank deep, knowing we had a long ride ahead. We found a bum who sold us a $5 bag of weed, rolled a joint, and smoked in the van until we heard a knock at the window. It was two cops, who warned us this was a “rough neighborhood” and walked away.
As my buddy and I went to board our bus, a haggard-looking old man asked if we wanted to buy some Xanax, which we politely declined, as we were already pretty fucked up.
We got on the bus and, to our chagrin, the only two seats available were aisle seats directly across from each other. However, the seats weren’t entirely, well, available: the gentlemen taking up the respective window seats were so large that their torsos spilled over into our seats, leaving me and my buddy each with one cheek in the seat and one in the aisle. Uncomfortable as it was, it wasn’t long before we passed out.
I awoke at 5 p.m. at a bus station on the outskirts of Knoxville, irate and desperate for a beer. We had half an hour to kill, and I thought myself miraculously lucky when I found a bar right next door. But when I walked into the dank, dusky honky-tonk, I found myself in a scene akin to a classic movie. Every drunken day-shift worker put down his drink and stared right at me. These guys were white-bread, and I’m the kind of half-Indian who gets dark in the summer. On top of that, my tattoos were exposed and my beard was in full effect. “I’m going to die,” I thought.
As soon as I got my $1 Bud, this yokel sidled up to me and slurred, “Hey, brother, you better get off that Allah, man — it’s all about Jeeeezuss!”
“Oh. Oh no. No, I don’t like Allah. I love Jesus. I swear,” I swore. The man put down his beer and started to stand up; several of his peers did the same. I grabbed my Budweiser and made for the door, full beer in hand.
I made it back to the bus and on to Cincinnati in one piece. I was back on another Greyhound by 2 a.m. the next night, after paying a cabbie $10 to drive me over the bridge into northern Kentucky — where I’d stood in front of a line of cars at a drive-thru liquor and begged the cashier to sell me a fifth of whiskey. I didn’t tour much after that.
Detours and Disasters
Often, musicians on tour encounter pitfalls in the form of natural or man-made disasters — tempestuous weather, accidents, and calamities of every sort, ranging from mild delays to Almost Famous-esque transportation woes.
Geoff Bennington, the guitarist/vocalist of the Brooklyn indie-rock outfit Gillian, describes narrowly missing one such cataclysm while the band was en route to Johnson City, Tennessee. “I think it was only the second full day of our first time on the road together as a band,” he remembers. They’d almost reached their destination, driving south on I-81, when their phones began to buzz and flicker with messages announcing an area-wide tornado watch. “We had no idea what to do,” says Bennington. “We looked out the window and saw that [the sky] was, for the most part, totally clear and open,” so the band kept driving.
Minutes later, everyone’s phones lit up with a second emergency message, a tornado warning. The band drove on, watching as other motorists pulled over and switched on their hazard lights. “We’re fine as long as we’re not close to the exit for Route 21,” guitarist Paul Demyanovich said, trying to calm down the rest of the van’s occupants.
“The next sign we see says ‘Route 21, next exit’,” offers Bennington. “This also happens to be the road we have to take to get to Johnson City.” With no tornado in sight and their destination nearby, the band pushed forward. It didn’t take long for them to notice the broken signs and snapped trees littering the highway, so they got off 81 and made for the backroads.
“Suddenly, we could go no further,” Bennington says, “because a huge barn had been knocked over and into the road, along with some trees and power lines.” The van came to a halt as the band stumbled onto a harrowing, almost biblical scene: farm animals, loose, milled about in terror. In the middle of the road, an enormous barn lay in ruin, having dragged down a number of trees and power lines with it.
On the side of the road, people were emerging from storm cellars and damaged homes, their faces contorted in shock and dismay. “Apparently, we missed it by about two minutes,” Bennington says of the tornado. “Suddenly, I felt bad for discouraging that last quick bathroom stop we took that probably saved our lives with its serendipitous timing.”
As long as fans of music are willing to shell out their hard-earned money to see live performances, there’ll be occasions for artists to get into trouble, to get involved in situations they’ll end up recounting to friends, fans, and journalists. These few snapshots into the lives of touring musicians are mere drops in the bucket, pages in an elephantine tome of booze-addled tomfoolery, waylaid van trips, vicious tempests, and snafus involving the locals. Every tour story, every new bit of oral tradition, adds another layer to the lore of the itinerant musician and another episode in the vast history of on-the-road antics we’ve come to expect from bands the world over.
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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 PulpFiction, 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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