The Wildest Publicity Stunts In Music

on 8 September 2011 in Slideshows


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A man once said "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." With the proliferation of media on the small screen and now the internet it is increasingly difficult for bands to get noticed based purely off the merits of their music. So where do they turn to get the publicity they so greatly desire? Cheap stunts of course! We countdown some of the wildest of the bunch.

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    A man once said "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." With the proliferation of media on the small screen and now the internet it is increasingly difficult for bands to get noticed based purely off the merits of their music. So where do they turn to get the publicity they so greatly desire? Cheap stunts of course! We countdown some of the wildest of the bunch.

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    The Sex Pistols Play On The Thames To celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee, young punk rockers The Sex Pistols hired a boat and sailed it down the Thames playing single 'God Save The Queen' next to Parliament. Police quickly boarded the boat and arrested manager Malcolm McLaren but the effect of the stunt was felt immediately as the single rocketed to Number 2 on the charts.

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    The KLF Exit The Music Industry The peak of the hubris surrounding The KLF reached boiling point in 1992 when the band performed for the BRIT Awards. Announcing on stage that "The KLF have now left the music business” the band shot blanks from machine guns into the audience before running off the stage and straight into their van. After the awards police discovered the band had left the carcass of a sheep with a note attached reading "I DIED FOR YOU – BON APPETIT" in the theatres lobby.

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    Imperial Stars cause a traffic jam Either completely brilliant or totally stupid, little known rock band Imperial Stars decided it would be an excellent idea to drive a bus adorned with their likeness onto one of Los Angeles busiest highways during peak hour and parking it across the lanes to hold up traffic. The driver fled into a waiting car, but the band triumphantly climbed on top of the bus and begun to play their single 'Traffic Jam 101'. The band was promptly arrested by highway patrol and haven't been heard from since.

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    Ozzy Osbourne Eats A Bat When the Black Sabbath frontman really was the 'Prince Of Darkness' he got off throwing pig intestines and cow livers into the audience during performances. Soon he got a taste of his own medicine however when a fan threw an unconscious bat onto the stage. Thinking it was a rubber toy Ozzy grabbed the animal and bit its head off. The singer was promptly rushed to hospital to receive shots for rabies but the legend of the incident has gone down in rock n roll history.

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    U2 Play On The Roof Recording their music video for 'Where The Streets Have No Name', Irish rockers U2 performed an impromptu concert on the roof of a liquor store in downtown Los Angeles. Hundreds of bystanders stopped to watch the concert before the LAPD rocked up to shut it down. The concept was similar to the Beatles famous Apple Records rooftop concert on January 30, 1969, which they used in their movie Let It Be. When asked about the similarity between U2's rooftop video and The Beatles rooftop concert, Bono said, "We've ripped off The Beatles many times before."

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    Hell on Earth Attempt Suicide on Stage Hell on Earth, an otherwise unremarkable metal band from Florida who's catalogue includes such gems as "Toilet Licking Maggot" and "Raped by the Virgin Mary", gained some notoriety when their plan to feature the on-stage suicide of a terminally ill man came to the attention of Florida police. The publicity stunted was thankfully derailed but the band went on to perform more painfully desperate stunts such as sex with dead animals on stage and encouraging fans to drink liquefied rat juice.

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    Janet Jackson's "Wardrobe Malfunction" With the eyes of America watching, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson performed a duet on stage during the half-time entertainment for the Super Bowl. As Timberlake reached his final line of Rock Your Body, "Bet I'll have you naked by the end of this song," Timberlake pulled off a part of Jackson's costume, revealing her right breast. CBS immediately cut the live broadcast but the damage was already done. The FCC fined CBS over $500,000 for the violation of broadcasting standards and the NFL announced that MTV, who had produced the half-time show, would never be involved again.

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    Buckcherry Pirate their own material Some publicity stunts become humiliating fiascos. In 2008, new single 'Too Drunk' by American rock band Buckcherry was leaked onto the internet. The band then issued a press release stating "We hate it when this s*** happens, because we want our fans to have any new songs first!” An investigation by TorrentFreak.com uncovered the IP address of the original uploader and the band was reduced to an embarrassed silence when the ISP traced the 'leak' to their manager. Ouch.

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    Kanye West’s Banned Album Art Remember when Kanye West cried foul when the cover art for his album 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' was reportedly banned by Walmart? In a recent interview artist George Condo, who painted the image of the rapper lounging nude with an equally nude phoenix for the sleeve, admitted that West asked him to create "something that would be banned." In October, the rapper tweeted "Yoooo they banned my album cover!!!!! Banned in the USA!!! They don't want me chilling on the couch with my Phoenix!" and proceeded to unleash a self-righteous diatribe on censorship. The media immediately took the bait despite assertions from Walmart's spokespeople that the retailer hadn't even seen the sleeve in question, much less banned it.

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