The pressure of being a rock star can get to many of them, and rock stars all deal with it in different ways. Some hit the bottle, some hit the rack and the whacky baccy, some hit the needle. Others just freak out momentarily, while sadly some choose to check out of the rock n’ roll hotel permanently in the worst way possible. Others, however, deal with it then and there on stage and in front of an audience. Join us as we count down some of our favourite on stage meltdowns.
The Everly Brothers They may have been one of the most successful duos of all time, but The Everly Brothers were prone to a bit of brotherly biffo and weren’t shy of hitting the bottle at times. During a show in 1973 in Hollywood, the venue manger came on stage mid set to cancel the show declaring that Don Everly was ‘too emotional’ to continue. The reality was that he was as pissed as a parrot, forgetting lyrics and guitar parts. His brother Phil stormed off stage vowing to never work with him again, smashing up his Gibson guitar on his way out for good measure. They didn’t work together for another 10 years.
Ryan Adams In 2006 Ryan Adams was playing a show in Nashville, Tennessee when a heckler thought it’d be funny to come up with that old chestnut of ‘confusing’ him with Canadian MOR rocker Bryan Adams and kept yelling out for ‘Summer of ‘69’. Adams eventually stopped the show, refusing to go on until the heckler left. The heckler refused to leave so Adams waded in to the audience and demanded the house lights were turned on until the heckler was identified. Adams then offered him $28 – the cost of a ticket to the show – for him to leave before he would continue.
Guns n' Roses Axl Rose & Co were playing in St Louis, Missouri, in 1991 when Axl took umbrage with a fan filming the gig from the front rows with his handycam. After berating the security guards and ordering them to take action, Rose decided to take matters into his own hands and dived into the crowd to confiscate the video camera off the offending fan, before leaving the stage never to return. 2,500 fans rioted, causing $200,000 damage which saw Rose face charges of inciting a riot and Guns n’ Roses banned from ever performing in the city again.
Amy Winehouse Alas Amy Winehouse’s last public performance would also be the nadir of her performing career, as she took to the stage in the Serbian capital Belgrade, drunk as a skunk and possibly Xanaxed out of her tree. Her embarrassed band tried to carry her performance before hecklers and concerned promoters brought the gig to an end. The remainder of the tour was cancelled and Winehouse would be dead several weeks later.
Badly Drawn Boy Badly Drawn Boy, AKA Damon Gough, freaked out on stage in Los Angeles at the end of last year, lashing out at fans, calling one a ‘cunt’ and telling the crowd he was ‘ready to fight’. After storming off stage, he returned to complete a set as fans streamed out the doors, with Gough admitting ‘This is a fucking disaster’ and naughtily lighting up a smoke on stage.
WAVVES In 2009, Wavves front man Nathan Williams entranced the crowd at the Primavera Festival in Spain as he launched into a beer fuelled performance which saw him fight with his band mates on stage before they walked off leaving him to try and play solo before his sound was cut. He later apologised, saying “Mixing ecstasy valium and xanax before having to play in front of thousands of people was one of the more poor decisions I’ve made(duh) and I realize my drinking has been a problem now for a good period of time. Nothing else I can do but apologize to everyone that has been affected by my poor decision making.”
Smashing Pumpkins After a performance the previous night which had been panned by critics an fan alike, front man Billy Corgan stopped the show and asked a particularly vocal heckler to come and join him on stage at the United Palace in New York City in November 2008. When asked what was wrong with the previous night’s performance, the fan bravely informed Corgan that it had sucked. Cue slaphead Billy retorting "I liked that song you wrote: ‘Take Your Dick Out Of My Ass And Stick It In My Mouth’. It was a big hit in Europe."
Wolfmother One a bit closer to home for Aussie music fans, Wolfmother front man and indeed only remaining original member Andrew Stockdale was a wee bit refreshed when he decided to take to the stage and join a cover band with a wee bit of karaoke of his own. Unfortunately it went down as well as Wolfmother’s last album, Cosmic Egg, did in the charts and ended up with Stockdale being escorted from the venue by police and sleeping it off in the Brisvegas drunk tank.
Stone Temple Pilots Front man Scott Weiland’s lack of sobriety would come as no surprise to either fans or his band mates. It got him kicked out of the band the first time around, but now that he has reunited with them, they are forced to just grin and bear it if he turns up strung out or drunk to a gig, as he did to this gig in Houston, Texas where he had a more pronounced onstage meltdown than usual in 2010.
Kings of Leon Arguably the most celebrated onstage meltdown by any musician in recent years, Kings of Leon front man Caleb Followill’s onstage implosion. A clearly ‘tired and emotional’ Followill told the crowd that he wasn’t drunk, and that he was just going backstage to vomit and get another beer. The band’s US tour was promptly cancelled at great expense and the future of the band is now up in the air.
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