The road to success is paved with excess, and these ten tales are ones the participants will never live down…nor should they!
Slash had said, “Being a rock star is the intersection of who you are and who you want to be.” Some musicians let their ids trump the constraints of their egos, and go too far. A few have regrets, many are not alive anymore, but if they last in the music business, usually they have an incident they aren’t proud of in their history. Debauchery, addiction, violence, lewdness, and self-destruction are familiar territory to the creatives below.
In most cases, they learned from their mistakes. The drug and sex bits I can relate to. Who doesn’t have a past? The stories of violence, not at all. At the same time, I’ve never been so famous that people didn’t tell me no. That can turn many adults into a petulant child.
Below are a few shocking incidents and a couple interesting moments within stardom that have stood out. I’ll end this little preface with my one of my favorite quotes.
“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”
– Charles Bukowski
1. Guns N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin might be a musical hero to some, but the passengers on a flight with him in 1989 felt the opposite. While flying from Indianapolis to Los Angeles, Izzy walked to the toilet, which was occupied. Feeling impatient, he announced, “I’m not waiting any longer!” He then unzipped his pants and pissed all over the galley area. The shocked passengers yelped, worried about the urine stink flooding their poor nostrils. A flight attendant crouched in the corner trying to avoid getting hit by the golden stream. I’m hoping that he was at least very intoxicated, to explain his rude behavior. Can you imagine a sober person doing that?
Ready for a laugh? After the incident, Geffen Records’ publicist Bryn Bridenthal stated, “Relieving himself in the galley was just his way of expressing himself.” Bryn would be great at Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ job as White House Press Secretary.
2. When Chi Wah Soo left her home in Rochester in 1976 to see one of her favorite performers, she didn’t expect to be arrested along with him. The stunning fan stood close to the stage as David Bowie strutted back and forth, looking for a beautiful face to sing to. A fan in the crowd handed Bowie a bracelet. He thanked her, but then moved closer to Chi Wah. “Oh, no,” Chi Wah thought as she intuitively sensed he was going to give her the gift. Bowie handed off the bracelet. The disappointed female fan who’d given it to Bowie practically tearing up as her solemn gaze fixed on Chi Wah. When the concert was over, a roadie handed Chi Wah a note to come backstage. Back at the hotel, Bowie let the entourage into the hotel suite, but held Chi Wah back. Then he led her to the bedroom, where the nervous girl sat on the end of the bed, not sure if she was ready for a sexual situation; she was actually a good girl who listened to her mother’s warnings about men. Finally, Bowie, holding a joint, joined her. She told him she didn’t smoke and they just started talking.
At this point, Bowie received awful news: his son was sick and his wife was missing. He frantically called people, but it turned out to be a cruel prank by two Floridian girls. The cops, suspecting Bowie of having drugs, had been using stethoscopes to spy on him in his hotel room. The cops knocked on the door and when Bowie peered out, they busted in with force, knocking him to the floor. Although Bowie’s entourage had asked an undercover cop where they could score cocaine, the disappointed cops only found marijuana. Three people in his group, including Iggy Pop, were charged with pot possession, but ultimately the charges were dropped. Bowie never again played Rochester, NY. While in custody, Chi Wah and Bowie were separated from the group where an immigration officer threatened to send him back to England and her back to China. This story seems so silly these days now that pot is legal.
3. Pogue’s singer and songwriter Shane MacGowan has a reputation for being a lovable mess. He’s also extremely smart, which is interesting since people of higher intelligence tend to drink more than normal drinkers. He has had bouts with sobriety but usually goes back to the drink or substances.
In 2000, the Pogues frontman was arrested for heroin possession after his good friend Sinead O’ Connor called an ambulance while discovering him unconscious in his London home. The British police ended up only giving him a formal caution since the amount of heroin was so small. Shane threatened to sue Sinead at the time for describing him as a regular drug user. (Sounds like typical junkie denial to me!) Luckily, Sinead and Shane repaired their relationship and he doesn’t use heroin today.Another scary instance of drug abuse was retold by Shane’s longtime girlfriend Victoria Clark, to the Independent: “When he answered the door to me after having missed his flight to the United States to open for Bob Dylan, there was blood pouring out of his mouth because he had eaten a Beach Boys record. It looked as though it was the hundred tabs of acid that were the problem and not the gin and tonic.” Clark added, “When I found him on the floor with a needle in his leg, the drink was not the first thing I worried about.”
4. Mamas and the Papas songwriter John Phillips has a cringeworthy reputation of incest with his daughter Mackenzie Phillips. But did you know that after Sharon Tate’s murder, Roman Polanski accused John of being the murderer? Polanski thought his motive was jealousy after Polanski bedded his then-wife, Mamas and the Papas bandmate Michelle Phillips, leading to their divorce, which was finalized in May of 1969, just three months before the murders. The Manson family were, of course, later arrested for the murders that took place at the Polanski residence. I wonder if Roman ever apologized?
John also battled heroin, cocaine and alcohol addictions. John’s daughter Mackenzie remembers her childhood home having sugar bowls full of cocaine in every room. She herself became addicted at the age of 13. At 18, she had sex with Mick Jagger, who was smitten with her. In another incident the same year, she had sex with her father John in a hotel room. She confronted him afterward, saying, “We need to talk about how you raped me.” To which John said, “Raped you? Don’t you mean made love?” Mackenzie admits to it becoming a consensual affair mixed with major drug abuse that lasted for ten years.
On the eve of her wedding night, John came over to stop it and they ended up having sex on his bed while high. She also claims that John said, “We could just run away to a country where no one would judge us. There are countries where this is an accepted practice. Maybe Fiji?” John Phillips’ ex-wives Michelle Phillips and Genevieve Waite don’t believe Mackenzie. They attribute these statements to delusion caused by mental illness and drug addiction. The evidence seems to support the incest though since John wrote a song and recorded it, with Mick Jagger on background vocals, called, “She’s Just 14,” about Mackenzie’s wild child ways. It is creepy, to say the least. Mackenzie ended up writing a book called, High On Arrival, which was a line from her father’s song about her.
5. Keith Moon accidentally killed his chauffeur, Neil Boland, while trying to escape skinheads at a pub in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England. The working-class skinheads were offended by The Who drummer’s fancy car and aversion to beer, choosing brandy instead. The skinheads told Moon and Boland they weren’t leaving and tried to barricade them inside the pub. Scared for his friend’s safety, Moon jumped into his Bentley and drove drunkenly through the crowd, not realizing he had run over his chauffeur. Boland ended up dying at the hospital that evening after they found him under the car. Moon was charged with drunk driving, and driving without a license or insurance, but the death was deemed an accident and Moon was cleared of all charges.
6. Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks didn’t indulge in drugs until after her band’s success, when she was 27. The gypsy lady bought 1 million dollars’ worth of cocaine that she would smuggle around in her gold and turquoise necklace to always have a bit at her disposal. The drug ended up burning a dime-sized hole in her nose, disfiguring her septum. For addicts, when there is a will there’s a way, and she proceeded to have her poor assistant blow the drug inside her anally. To hide drugs from authorities in Europe, Fleetwood Mac hired a private train to ship them to France and Holland from Germany. The immaculate train cars were furnished with shiny, gold light fixtures and gorgeous velvet curtains. The elderly attendant on board revealed to the band that the train was once Hitler’s private transportation and that he himself was the assistant to the Fuhrer. Holy crap! I wonder if their paranoid cocaine brains went into stress overdrive during that ride!
7. John Lennon wrote the line, “I am the Eggman,” in the Beatles’ song, “I Am The Walrus,” about an explicit sex act told to him by the Animals’ frontman and friend, Eric Burden. Eric had been cooking eggs for breakfast naked, when his sultry Jamaican girlfriend, Sylvia, came up beside him and slipped amyl nitrate under his nostril, making him slide down onto the kitchen floor. She cracked his egg over his abdomen and performed fellatio on his battered member. Eric received the nickname, “Eggs,” and “Eggman,” from friends after they learned of the morning romp. Eric told John Lennon and a handful of girls the dude story at a cocktail party to which Lennon was quoted as saying, “Go on, go get it, Eggman!” The willing ladies then tried out the slimy act on Lennon and Burden in a nearby room. You can read all about it in Eric Burden’s autobiography, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.
8. The “Rebel Yell” singer Billy Idol is known for being crazy while intoxicated. He caused $140,000 worth of damage in a penthouse suite in a Bangkok hotel after a three-week, drug-fueled sex party in the early 1990s. Thai soldiers carried him out strapped to a stretcher and advised him to go back home. He was very lucky he wasn’t arrested. In 1991, the blond-haired punk was arrested for hitting Amber Nevel in the face several times in the back of a car while her friend, Laurie Bailey, was driving his manager and Idol back to their vehicle. William Broad a.k.a. Billy Idol, was ordered to pay a $2,700 fine and create a one-minute public service announcement on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. He also was ordered to undergo therapy.
9. Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice spoke out two years ago about the ‘mud shark’ incident between a groupie and a two-foot long shark which was filmed by Led Zepplin’s Jon Bonham. The girl was one that Appice was bedding and in 1969, they met at the Edgewater Inn, a Seattle hotel off the Puget Sound. One of the perks was being able to fish from your window. The woman was begging Appice to make a film with her, when he brushed her off, Bonham, Richard Cole, (Zepplin’s manager), and two other roadies said yes. They brought the shark, which they were keeping in a bathtub, made her undress and whipped her with it. She was left with red lacerations on her back, but continued to roll around on the bed anyway. Next they simulated sex acts between her and the shark on camera until an appalled hotel manager made them stop. The groupie ended up moving to Alaska and starting a family. I bet she never thought this night would become legendary. Hopefully, her kids never find out!
10. The Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel, shared angst and drugs as well as talent. Liam pissed all over Noel’s stereo in a drunken rage as teens while sharing a room. In 1994, before gigging at the Whiskey A Go-Go in Los Angeles, every member of the band snorted large lines of crystal meth thinking it was only cocaine. The result was a disastrous performance caught on tape as everyone started playing a different song at once. The band couldn’t sleep for days. Between starting fights with each other, audience members, drug abuse, getting deported, and arrested multiple times, they managed to really get their hands dirty over the years.