We all likely share the same fantasies when it comes to meeting our heroes. In the wonderful dreamworld of chance encounters with famous people, we are cool, collected, and not at all geeking out at sharing the same real estate as someone we admire. This applies to musicians as well. We imagine that we could conjure up stories that would make them see us differently than every other fervent follower they come across. "I’ll make an impression on them," you think to yourself. "One day."
But no, that will probably never happen. Most famous people don’t do their own grocery shopping, you know. But maybe it’s a good thing you won’t meet a famous musician, for example. You have to be careful — you could end up meeting one of these musicians and have much more than an awkward encounter to regale your friends with. Instead, you could be walking away with tales of terror or maybe bodily harm. Here are musicians you wouldn’t want to meet in real life.
Sebastian Bach doesn’t take rejection well
Sebastian Bach, the front man of ’80s and ’90s hair metal veterans Skid Row, holds a special place in the hearts of music fans, despite having a dicey history offstage. Bach wore a T-shirt in 1989 that mocked the AIDS crisis, and that same year chucked a bottle from the stage that ended up breaking a woman’s nose. He didn’t exactly have the most peaceful 1989.
In 2010, Bach was visiting a bar with live music in his Ontario hometown. Bach asked the singer if he and his buddies could come up and sing a little bit, and the musician directed them to the pub’s manager. This didn’t go over well with Bach. Not sure why a local entertainer wouldn’t want the singer of a world-famous rock band to join him, Bach and his group began to loudly heckle the artist, even throwing ice cubes at him from their seats.
The staff at the pub understandably grew more nervous and eventually asked Bach’s party to leave. The Skid Row singer wanted to take his wine with him, and when that request was denied, Bach smashed the glass, prompting the owner to call the cops. Unsurprisingly, Sebastian also took offense to that, the owner put him in a bear hug, and Bach bit him. After he’d cooled down, Bach had the usual Canadian sense of humor about the whole incident, saying "America gets rock stars a little more than Canada does."
Billy Bob Thornton gets super grouchy on air
Billy Bob Thornton, while not acting on-screen, also plays in a band. He really, really wants you to know that and to not ask him about his day job. His band, the Boxmasters, had a run of gigs they were promoting on a Toronto radio station when the host, Jian Ghomeshi, had the misfortune of mentioning that Thornton had been in some movies in the past. Billy Bob bristled at his work being brought up, apparently, and then gave a master class on being difficult on the air.
Questions were evaded or flat-out ignored with stunning tenacity. The host mentioned the band only being together for two years so far. Thornton’s reply? "I don’t know what you’re talking about." Ghomeshi noted that the band was currently on tour with Willie Nelson. Pretty cool, right? Billy Bob drolly said he’d never met him. The air was thick with ridicule and hostility, and Billy Bob eventually said the host had been instructed not to bring up his acting career.
The Boxmasters were supposed to play a song in the studio, but Thornton refused to join, apparently making up a lie that he didn’t have his drums with him and then just bouncing from the studio altogether. Funny enough, the Toronto shows he was "promoting" ended with the band being booed because of his on-air antics. Two subsequent shows were canceled.
Vince Neil is a nightmare in public
The front man of the traveling foursome of hedonism that is Motley Crue is someone you would probably expect to be a little … wild. But Vince Neil takes that stage character and ramps it up even higher when he’s in the real world.
You may have heard how Vince crashed his car in 1984 while boozed up, killing his passenger, Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley. He got off almost completely scot-free, serving about 15 days and then five years of probation. He earned himself a few more DUIs the following years, one in 2007, and another in 2010.
But it’s a Las Vegas altercation involving Nicolas Cage that’s the most curious, probably because there’s a video of it. A young female fan was attempting to ask Cage for an autograph, which Neil somehow mistook as an aggressive maneuver and yanked her by the hair, pulling her to the ground. The seemingly intoxicated Neil was then charged at by an even-more-in-the-bag Nicolas Cage, who pulled Neil away and bear-hugged him, loudly stating his love for the man. Cage escorted the singer away from trouble, but Neil was still charged with misdemeanor battery.
Kanye West is terrible to his audiences
Kanye is often lauded as a musical and production genius. His larger-than-life ego fully believes this, and he acts like it when he takes the stage. Well, to be more accurate, whenever he feels like rolling up to the venue and eventually sauntering onto the stage because Kanye is perpetually late for his job. Never one to shy away from taking the stage several hours late or going on bizarre rants between songs, or even canceling shows on the fly, West still has fans in his corner for some reason.
At least his able-bodied friends, more accurately. In 2014, Kanye was feeling very much in the moment and requested that every single person in the crowd stand up. He felt that not everyone was partaking, so he stopped the show for a bit and had the house lights turned on. The fans at the Sydney concert just weren’t meeting his demands, it seemed, and he stated that he literally could not perform this song until everyone rose.
One fan couldn’t help it: They were in a wheelchair. West continually brought it to the crowd’s attention that this person just wasn’t following his orders, despite concertgoers near the fan trying to point out that this person, you know, physically could not stand up. West, after wayyyyy too long, finally took the hint and let the person off blast. That brush with idiocy didn’t teach him any lessons, as another show in Australia a few days later saw West telling the audience that people who weren’t standing needed to show him "proof of disability," whatever that means. (Doesn’t matter, it’s offensive regardless.)
Don Henley had an underage prostitute almost die in his home
The Eagles drummer and vocalist warned of the dangers of excess in their seminal hit "Hotel California" but never skimmed the lyrics afterward to try and glean any lasting advice, apparently.
Police were summoned to Henley’s Los Angeles home in 1980 by paramedics who were there to treat a drug overdose. The person overdosing was a 16-year-old girl who was allegedly being prostituted. Detectives with the Sexually Exploited Child Unit (never a good name to see on a jacket entering your home) took Henley in on charges of furnishing cocaine to a minor. They went on to find a smorgasbord of drugs throughout the house.
He would be released on an obscenely low amount of bail money and wrote the hit "Dirty Laundry" not long after. He got two years’ probation and an astonishingly downgraded charge of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor."
Eric Clapton got super racist during a ’70s concert
Fans of rock music perennially hold Eric Clapton in the highest esteem when it comes to listing off the greatest guitarists in history. It’s fair to include him in those arguments, as he’s written some of the most timeless songs and is known for some of the most classic riffs and solos ever. It’s when he talks out loud that things sometimes take a turn south.
Clapton has usually been the first to admit that he’s greatly indebted to the black blues musicians who came before him. But if they had been privy to his outburst at a 1976 concert in Birmingham, England, they might not have been so keen to let him fly their flag.
During his outburst, a drug- and booze-addled Clapton shouted to his concert crowd to "keep Britain white." He also announced his backing of a racist political member of Parliament named Enoch Powell while chanting racial slurs like "coon." He made it very clear that he did not want people of color in what he thought should be a white country.
The years since have seen Clapton very apologetic, blaming his addiction for his behavior. But even in remorse, he can’t avoid putting his foot in his mouth, saying things like "half of my friends were black" and "I dated a black woman."
Billy Idol went on a binge of biblical proportions
Billy Idol seems to be one of those rock stars who would likely leave his image behind when he steps offstage. Sure, he seems cool and sexy and slightly dangerous when he’s crooked-lip crooning "White Wedding" for thousands of people, but you could imagine him quietly retiring to his hotel room for some tea after a show.
At least in regards to the events that unfolded during his stay in Bangkok in the early ’90s. Idol cooped himself up in a series of hotels and engaged in an extended binge of debauchery that would make Satan weep. Somehow during his wild fling, he found time during his three-week stay to do a reported $200,000 worth of damage to one penthouse suite.
As is to be expected when Billy Idol is partaking in drugs and sex and ransacking rooms, the military was brought in to help matters. Idol was strapped to a stretcher by soldiers of the Thai military and forcibly dismissed from the premises.
GG Allin was … extreme
To be born with the given name of Jesus Christ Allin shows that your parents maybe wanted you to follow a high moral path, showing others the light and the way by example, and always leaving the world better than you found it.
If that was his parents’ wish, it didn’t happen. GG Allin was best known for being quite a prolific performer with many different punk rock acts. Too bad those aren’t the only kind of acts we’re going to discuss here. Allin was really into acts that were then (and are now) considered pretty lewd and lascivious. An attendee of a punk show featuring Allin at the front of the stage could expect to witness many different sights and sounds, and even smells. Equipment would be trashed, blood and broken bones were common, and Allin would even develop a notorious reputation for taking laxatives before a show, then relieving himself onstage and throwing it into the audience.
Police were frequently summoned, and many shows were cut off after a few songs. Assault and indecency charges usually followed. Allin also threatened to commit suicide onstage. It is maybe not shocking that he died of an overdose not long into his career.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
As I Lay Dying singer hired a hitman to kill his wife
The world of metal isn’t exactly known for subtlety or a gentle persuasion. But you may be surprised how many growling metal front men are thoughtful and caring people. Tim Lambesis of As I Lay Dying is not one of those people.
Lambesis was convicted in 2014 for being a part of a murder-for-hire plot to take out his estranged wife. In May 2013, he solicited someone to off his wife of eight years, offering a cool thousand dollars and detailed instructions on how to go about doing it. His wife, Meggan, had filed for divorce the previous year, but that’s the only nugget of speculation as to why he wanted to have the mother of his three adopted children murdered. The only problem was that the person he was enlisting to carry out this grim act was actually an undercover police officer.
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years but ended up serving just under three, gaining release in December 2016. As for his band, well, he’s back fronting the group, who supported him during his trial and jailing. (That could be part of their Christian leanings, something the group has tried to downplay.) They are currently gearing up for a North American tour in 2019.
Dave Navarro got banned from the Playboy Mansion
The eyeliner-bedecked, fingernail-painted guitarist from Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers is more than happy to share the details of his former addiction. Those stories probably peaked with a late ’90s visit to Hugh Hefner’s palace of sordid behavior in Los Angeles, the infamous Playboy Mansion.
The tales that have escaped the walls of the Playboy Mansion describe an atmosphere that is more akin to old Roman orgy houses. Dave Navarro took all that in and then decided to top it. At one point during an evening at the mansion, the guitarist decided to take part in menage-a-many, but he didn’t stop there. Navarro was also an addict and chose to add heroin to the proceedings. Then Navarro really amped it up by scrawling on the walls with his own blood.
Hugh Hefner was apparently none too thrilled to catch security footage of a drugged-up rock star bleeding in one of his many bedrooms, and security told Navarro not to come back to the Playboy Mansion.
Boy George imprisoned a male escort
Boy George was the androgynous leader of the ’80s band Culture Club. Known for his flamboyant behavior, the singer (real name George O’Dowd), also privately suffered from a crippling drug addiction throughout his later career. Several incidents involved him possessing cocaine or admitting to being on heroin during his ’80s success, but most of them involved him hurting only himself.
That changed in 2009 when Boy George was attempting to conduct a naked photo session in his home with a male escort. Cocaine soon entered the equation, and a little later, Boy George became increasingly agitated with the man, accusing him of trying to hack into his computer. When the escort tried to protest, George handcuffed him to a wall fixture and retreated to another room, returning with all sorts of straps, adult toys, and chains. The rock star then began beating the escort with said chains. The poor man eventually broke free and fled into the streets.
O’Dowd earned himself a 15-month prison sentence, but celebrity being what it is, he only served four.
Peter Buck’s air rage
The band R.E.M. has made a pretty good career of making music while also sidestepping a lot of the notoriety and scandals that can plague a rock band. Really, the most "Behind the Music"-y episode of their career is when their poor drummer suffered an aneurysm on stage in the ’90s.
But in 2002, guitarist Peter Buck embarked on a flight that attempted to make up for all those years of boring good behavior at once. On the Seattle-to-London plane ride, Buck began downing wine like it was about to become illegal, chugging 15 glasses and becoming increasingly belligerent to the flight staff. He was cut off (see: "too little too late" in the dictionary), but the shenanigans didn’t stop there. He tried to grab a bottle of champagne from the galley but was denied. He punched the wall of the plane loudly and tried to pull a knife from a serving cart. He brandished a cup of yogurt and a spoon like they were weapons, then splattered several people with the dairy product. Buck then tried to open the plane door, saying he was "going home." At one point he confused a serving cart with a CD player and also claimed a perfect stranger was his wife.
These mile-high adventures should have made the assault charges levied against him stick, but alas, Peter Buck was found innocent.
50 Cent apparently hates his son, and also janitors with autism
You might think being shot nine times would give you a more positive outlook on life, like in a "live well and be good to people" way — especially toward your own children and maybe strangers you meet during your travels. But 50 Cent, or Curtis Jackson, still harbors resentment toward many, blood relative or no.
50 Cent has a son named Marquise, and to say they’re estranged is a bit of an understatement. The two have been at odds for over a decade, and when 50 saw an Instagram post of 21-year-old Marquise in 2018, he publicly commented that if his son got hit by a bus, "I wouldn’t have a bad day." Can you feel the love?
If you were feeling left out, the rapper also can turn his ire toward the general public. He went on live video to mock a teenage airport employee, thinking he would razz on the youth of today. He even put the kid on blast on the video, even as the poor guy just tried to avoid eye contact and work his job. 50 took this behavior as being on drugs, stating that the teen’s pupils were dilated as definitive proof. The video went viral, and attracted the attention of many, including the teen’s parents, who pointed out that their son was not a druggie but did have autism and social anxiety. 50 eventually gave a weak apology. Maybe he’ll get some dope rhymes out of the whole ordeal.
Afroman punched a fan
As the one-hit wonder performer of a novelty song about drugs, Afroman is known primarily for 2001’s "Because I Got High." Both a celebration of and a cautionary tale against smoking marijuana, it details how a man’s life goes terribly wrong because he neglects to take care of a series of escalating responsibilities, choosing instead to get high. And at first, Afroman seemed like a jovial, chilled-out presence (one guess why), both on his record and in the video featuring noted fictional stoners Jay and Silent Bob. But the next time Afroman made headlines, it was because of an ugly incident at a 2015 concert in Biloxi, Mississippi.
According to TMZ, while Afroman was performing, a female fan got up on stage and danced next to the singer/rapper, to which he responded by flipping around and decking her in the face. According to witnesses, the woman crumbled to the ground, crying and bleeding, while Afroman continued with his song. Before long, police had ended the concert, arrested Afroman, and booked him on an assault charge.
The fan, Haley Byrd, sued the company that owns the concert venue and Afroman himself, especially on account of how she may have suffered a concussion from the punch. A judge ruled in her favor, ordering Afroman to pay out $65,000.
Rick James did some super freaky things
Just six months before his death in August 2004, funk and R&B singer Rick James was discovered (or rediscovered) and became something of a folk hero when he was featured on an epic, multi-part sketch on Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show. Staff writer Charlie Murphy narrated the stories of his interactions with James in the early ’80s while performers re-enacted them, led by Dave Chappelle in a hilarious, unhinged performance of James as a rude, sexist, drugged-addled egomaniac who liked to ruin couches and slap Charlie Murphy. The "Super Freak" singer himself participated, confirming and denying various details of the story in talking head segments, and delivering a justification for his past actions, saying, "Cocaine is a hell of a drug."
That may explain, but not justify, some of the other things James did that wouldn’t make for very good sketch comedy fodder. In his memoir (via Rolling Stone), James claimed that a combination of freebasing cocaine and sadness over the death of his mother plunged him into all manner of depravity. That’s not even counting the three-day period in 1991 when, according to the Los Angeles Times, James and his girlfriend allegedly met a woman at a party, took her home, sexually assaulted her, forced her to smoke crack out of a pipe, burned her with the pipe around 20 times, and wouldn’t let her leave for three days, threatening to kill her if she tried.
Billy Corgan made a lot of enemies
As the lead singer and chief creative force behind Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan snarled his way to alternative rock superstardom in the ’90s. With songs of anger and dissatisfaction like "Zero" and "Today," millions of jaded young people found an ally in Corgan, who, over the last 20-odd years, has formed a second career in starting feuds.
For example, he dated Hole’s Courtney Love before her marriage to Kurt Cobain and then again after his death, leading Corgan to work on Hole’s Celebrity Skin, which he then publicly trashed, saying it "left a bad taste in [his] mouth." Years later, he wrote songs for a Hole album that were included against his wishes, leading him to use Twitter to dismiss Love, saying she should go away and "live off [her] husband’s money."
And that’s just how he treats people he knows. Corgan has more vitriol for strangers. According to Queerty, in 2011, he called a trans woman a "he/she," as well as an "ugly pig," and in 2016, he went on the conservative Alex Jones Show and compared politically progressive social justice warriors to both 1930s KKK members and the Maoists who started a Communist revolution in China.
How low can J.Lo go?
Jennifer Lopez is a major actress and mega-successful pop singer, but she insists she’s still just a normal person, belaboring the point on her hit single "Jenny from the Block." There’s quite a bit of evidence, however, that Lopez doesn’t care to mingle with common folk. "She doesn’t speak to salespeople, restaurant or hotel staff or flight attendants," a Lopez associate told Star (via RadarOnline). "She only talks through her assistants."
On a plane once, a flight attendant allegedly asked Lopez if he could get her a beverage. "But Jennifer refused to acknowledge me," the service worker said. "She turned her head away and told her personal assistant, ‘Please tell him I’d like a Diet Coke and lime.’" In 2012, a maid working at a hotel in Germany told Us Weekly that she asked Lopez for her autograph during a stay. Assistants rejected her on Lopez’s behalf, and a day later, the maid said she was fired after Lopez complained.
Lopez apparently isn’t much kinder to famous people. In a 1998 interview with Movieline, she gave her shockingly unfiltered opinions of her actress competition. Lopez called Cameron Diaz "a lucky model who’s been given a lot of opportunities I just wish she would have done more with." She noted that Winona Ryder "gets nominated for Oscars, but I’ve never heard anyone in the public or among my friends say, ‘Oh, I love her.’" Gwyneth Paltrow may have gotten the worst of it, as Lopez said she couldn’t "remember anything she was in."
Mike Love isn’t all that friendly
The Beach Boys’ chief songwriter, Brian Wilson, took things to the next level in the mid-’60s, creating pop symphonies like Pet Sounds, which is universally regarded as one of the greatest records ever made. Wilson’s bandmate (and cousin) Mike Love, however, didn’t agree. According to Vice, when he heard a sample of what would become Pet Sounds, Love barked, "Who is gonna hear this s***? The ears of a dog?" That gave Wilson the idea to name it Pet Sounds, although Love would later try to take the credit.
Love would also go on the offensive several times. In 1992, he sued Wilson for songwriting credits on dozens of old Beach Boys tunes. In 2005, Love sued Wilson again because he "shamelessly misappropriated" their band by distributing a Beach Boys CD to promote Smile, his solo album that had originally been a Beach Boys project in the ’60s, which, according to Rolling Stone, Wilson scrapped because Love had been so critical of it.
Brian Wilson isn’t the only seemingly untouchable icon to earn Mike Love’s ire. On the night the Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, Love went off on the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. "The Beach Boys did about 180 performances last year," he said. "I’d like to see the Mop Tops match that! I’d like to see Mick Jagger get out on this stage and do ‘I Get Around’ versus ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ any day now."
Tommy Lee’s reputation precedes him
As a founding member of Motley Crüe, Tommy Lee was among the most proudly debauched and depraved bands in rock history. It’s all laid out in mind-blowing detail in the collective Crüe bio The Dirt, although Lee got into some antics on his own, such as an off-and-on relationship with Pamela Anderson that resulted in a lucrative honeymoon tape, as well as some jail time.
Per the Los Angeles Times, Lee had a long rap sheet of violent charges, which a California judge noted in 1998 when he sentenced the drummer to six months in jail (plus three years probation) for spousal battery. Lee reportedly assaulted Anderson while she was holding their baby son … because she wouldn’t tell her parents to cancel a visit.
Lee was later charged with inciting a riot at a 1997 concert in North Carolina after he assisted bandmate Nikki Sixx in pouring beer on a security guard’s head. Another time, Lee was sued (but ultimately cleared of wrongdoing) when a four-year-old boy drowned in his swimming pool during his son’s birthday party. Lee was in the news once more in 2018, when he landed in the hospital after a fist fight with his adult son.