Firing real machine guns into the crowd, inviting a fan to replace your drug addled drummer or returning to finish a gig after breaking your leg...life on stage is a bit nuts!
JIM MORRISON LETS IT ALL HANG OUT
You can imagine the conversation backstage before The Doors went on stage in Miami in 1969: 'A lamb Jim, you sure about that?' 'Yeah man, a lamb, it'll be far out'. This could have been the preamble to Morrison's inebriated performance which consisted of forgetting the lyrics, rambling about stuff and encouraging the whole crowd to have sex before whipping out his own bits and claiming that everyone was there to see his penis anyway. And his piece de resistance? Getting lusty with a little lost lamb who had magically appeared on stage at the end of the night (an actual lamb, this is not a metaphor). Because the '60s.
JACKIE WILSON HAS A HEART ATTACK
Famed for his frenetic live performances, Jackie Wilson a.k.a ‘Mr. Excitement’ had a string of hits in the ‘50s and ‘60s including Reet Petite, To Be Loved and the 1967 classic (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer put everything into his live performances – splits, jumps and even vocal acrobatics. His stage antics influenced everyone from Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson and Prince.
On September 29, 1975, while performing Lonely Teardrops, Wilson collapsed onstage at a New Jersey nightclub. Having suffered a heart attack, he went into a coma from which he never recovered. He died aged 49 after spending eight years in a coma.
‘CAN ANYONE PLAY THE DRUMS?’
In November 1973, the Who were riding high on the success of their rock opera masterpiece, Quadrophenia. Unfortunately, the band's tour in support of the album proved disastrous. Perhaps the lowest point came on the opening night of the tour when Keith Moon took PCP to calm his nerves before going on stage. Halfway through the classic anthem Won't Get Fooled Again, Moon slumped over on his drums and passed out cold.
The show must go on, however, and when guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend asked the crowd, “Can anybody play the drums?” 19-year-old fan Scot Halpin took to the stage and proceeded to play drums with the legendary band for the rest of the show.
DAVID BOWIE GETS A LOLLIPOP IN THE EYE
In 2004, Bowie was performing at the Norwegian Wood Festival in Oslo when a lollipop flew from the crowd, hitting the Thin White Duke in the eye with the stick lodging itself in between his eyeball and eye socket.
Bowie swore at the unknown confectionary culprit, lost in the crowd of 7,500, and stated that he only had one good eye as the other had been damaged in a childhood fight (giving him his unique, different colored eyes).
“Lucky you hit the bad one,” Bowie said, demanding to know who threw the lollipop to no avail.
OZZY OSBOURNE DECAPITATES A BAT
This incident has embedded itself into Rock’n’Roll folklore and catapulted Osbourne to legendary status. After someone threw an unconscious bat on stage at a Black Sabbath concert, the already infamous lead singer picked it up and bit the head off it, reportedly believing it was a rubber toy. Having continued to decapitate the bat after realising it was a living creature Osbourne underwent an intensive course of rabies treatment.
DAVE GROHL BREAKS HIS LEG…AND RETURNS TO FINISH THE GIG
Whoever says Rock’n’Roll is dead has to answer to this man. Dave Grohl needs to do very little to be considered one of rock music’s most revered icons, being in Nirvana, Queens of the Stoneage and of course the Foo Fighters. Breaking your leg on stage in front of thousands of adoring fans is pretty hardcore but getting back up with your leg in a cast and playing the remainder of the show is legendary.
SINEAD O’CONNOR RIPS UP A PHOTO OF THE POPE
Furious about the child abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, Sinead O’Connor decided to use her appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1992 to make a point. Without telling producers in advance, she tore a photo of the Pope in half after a performance Bob Marley's War. This is long before the public was aware of the Catholic Church's role in covering up child abuse, and the incident ignited a firestorm. To this day O'Connor says that she has no regrets, but it definitely dealt a near-lethal blow to her career.
JIMI HENDRIX’S STAR SPANGLED BANNER
In 1969, Jimi Hendrix played a stirring rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock as part of a medley that incorporated sounds of war and taps, the bugle call played at military funerals. Hendrix was the last artist to play, and many onlookers called his performance a defining moment of the era.
THE KLF QUIT
After a chaotic performance of 3AM Eternal aided by Extreme Noise Terror (which concluded with a real machine gun firing blanks at the audience) the band announced their retirement from the industry via the medium of a dead sheep left at the after party. The words ‘I died for you’ were scrawled on a piece of paper tied to the animal’s corpse.
L7 CHUCK A TAMPON
L7 formally achieved Rock Infamy in 1992, at Reading Festival. When the band experienced sound problems during their set, the crowd got punchy and began pelting the stage with mud. L7’s lead singer, the inimitable Donita Sparks, responded by removing her tampon and directed the rabble to “Eat my used tampon, f***ers!”