Syd Barrett Founding member of Pink Floyd Syd Barrett, writer of groundbreaking psychedelic tunes such as ‘See Emily Play’ and ‘Arnold Layne,’ took one LSD trip too many and was forced to leave the band he founded when he could no longer even play songs he had written on stage with them. His descent into the life of a drug addled and mentally ill recluse, back in his hometown of Cambridge where he died in 2006, wasn’t without its lighter moments. A journalist who visited him in his flat some years after he left the band heard a loud noise as if pipes were shaking when sitting around waiting for Syd. Enquiring of the source of the noise, Syd’s housemate giggled and informed him 'That's Syd having a bad trip. We put him in the linen cupboard.'
Aerosmith Known for their prodigious cocaine and heroin intake while criss-crossing America on a seemingly never ending tour in the mid 70s, it so happened that the band returned to the same theatre that they’d played in Cleveland, Ohio six months earlier. During sound check, the tour manager suggested that drug addled band reverse their set list which was in the same order it had been at the previous gig to make things more interesting. Duly agreeing and hoovering up another line or 10, the band went on stage to an adoring crowd some hours later, opening with their usual gig finale ‘Walk This Way’. The song over, the band duly wished the crowd ‘Goodnight, Cleveland’ and made their way backstage and on to their hotels before anyone realised the band were so out of it they assumed after one song they’d finished the gig.
New Order Bequeathing the legendary Hacienda Nightclub to the world, New Order pumped tens of millions of pounds in to it throughout the 1980s. Perhaps due to naïveté, stupidity, or the fact that they were all consuming enough cocaine and ecstasy to fell an elephant on a nightly basis, it constantly lost money due to bad design and management. It was perhaps best summed up by the fact that that when the club began to be overrun by gun toting drug gangs, they installed a metal detector at the door. It never worked because it was installed on a metal floor.
Motley Crue While on a high speed bullet train from Osaka to Tokyo in the mid 80s, the terrible twosome of Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee were snorting lines off tables and terrorising fellow passengers. Deciding to throw a full bottle of Jack Daniels at their tour promoter, Mr Udo, Nikki missed and it landed at a similarly high speed as the train into another passenger’s forehead, causing blood to spatter over the carriage. Arrested on arrival in Tokyo, Sixx was bailed out by said Mr Udo, who luckily did not correctly translate Sixx’s question to the desk sergeant granting him bail, which was ‘how do you think my balls would look on your chin?’
James Brown The Godfather of Soul managed to cop the worst mug shot of all time after being arrested in September 1988. Papa had just had a brand new bag of cocaine and PCP when, carrying a shotgun he entered an insurance seminar next door to his office in Augusta Georgia, demanding to know who had been using his private bathroom. Police chased him across State lines into South Carolina and back to Georgia before ending the chase by shooting out the back tyres of his truck.
Alex James of Blur Alex James was fond of holding court at swanky London member’s club the Groucho Club at the height of Blur’s Britpop fame in the mid nineties. Cheerfully admitting to spending a million pounds at the time on cocaine, he also found himself in trouble for riding a bicycle down the stairs of the club and paying the house pianist £500 to play Glen Campbell’s Wichita Linesman for an hour.
David Bowie David Bowie developed quite a bad ‘Hollywood Cold’ as the locals call it while indulging in a year-long cocaine bender while cooped up in a house in Los Angeles. As depicted in the Alan Yentob documentary Cracked Actor, Bowie was in such a state he would only consume food or drink that was also white like cocaine, such as milk. On his return to the United Kingdom at Victoria Station, he thought that he’d greet the assembled crowd and media with a few Nazi salutes. He’s been trying to live that one down for over 30 years.
Brian Wilson – The Beach Boys Already moving beyond their squeaky clean wholesome image by the time the Beach Boys released Pet Sounds in 1965, Brian Wilson had embraced using drugs by the time it came around to recording the follow up, Smile. Wilson prepared for the album’s recording sessions by bringing along $2,000 worth of hash, as well as LSD and prescription amphetamines. His piano was then placed in a sandpit constructed on the studio floor, while the orchestra he brought in to play on the album were instructed to wear fireman helmets while recording takes.
Ozzy Osbourne Ozzy Osbourne’s 40 year bender offers a Bachelor Degree education in why drugs are bad for you, so god knows why it was considered a good idea to send him on tour with Motley Crue as the support act. On one particular occasion Ozzy - wearing a dress as you do - found to his dismay that the tour party was out of cocaine. Grabbing a straw off Nikki Sixx, he bent down on the footpath and snorted up a line of innocent marching ants, after which he proceeded to urinate on said footpath, fall to his knees and lick it up.
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