9 Highly Controversial Statements Made by Rock and Metal Musicians

Some legendary comments here.

Ultimate Guitar

Article updated on February 1, 2016

There's nothing like a fresh dose of controversy and blowing things out of proportion to spice up one's daily routine. This goes for just about any domain out there, and rock realm is no different.

Throughout the years, rock musicians made statements that caused quite a bit of backlash from the public. Some seem silly these days, others are still outrageous, and they all remain written in the books of rock history. Check out nine prominent examples below.

John Lennon - 'We're more popular than Jesus'

To say something like this back in 1966, which was almost 50 years ago, was nothing short of outrageous, earning the Beatles icon John Lennon a flattering title of the most controversial comment ever made by a rock musician.

Here goes: "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that. I'm right and I'll be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now. I don't know which will go first: rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."

David Bowie Calls Hitler a Rockstar

Back in 1976, David Bowie stirred things up quite a bit by praising Adolf Hitler as one of the first rock stars in history.

He told Playboy magazine: "Christ, everything is a media manipulation. I'd love to enter politics. I will one day. I'd adore to be Prime Minister.

"And, yes, I believe very strongly in fascism. The only way we can speed up the sort of liberalism that's hanging foul in the air at the moment is to speed up the progress of a right-wing, totally dictatorial tyranny and get it over as fast as possible. People have always responded with greater efficiency under a regimental leadership.

"A liberal wastes time saying, 'Well, now, what ideas have you got?' Show them what to do, for God's sake. If you don't, nothing will get done. I can't stand people just hanging about. Television is the most successful fascist, needless to say.

"Rock stars are fascists, too. Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars."

He added, "Think about it. Look at some of his films and see how he moved. I think he was quite as good as Jagger. It's astounding.

"And, boy, when he hit that stage, he worked an audience. Good God! He was no politician. He was a media artist himself. He used politics and theatrics and created this thing that governed and controlled the show for those 12 years. The world will never see his like. He staged a country."

Eric Clapton - 'Foreigners are disgusting, keep Britain white!'

During a 1976 performance at the Birmingham Odeon, Eric Clapton gave strong support to Enoch Powell, a UK politician known for his controversial speech on immigration commonly referred to as the "Rivers of Blood" speech.

It's interesting how the public shredded Lennon for his Jesus comments, yet Clapton's comments seemingly caused far less outrage. If two influential musicians made similar comments today, the Christian comment would probably get zero attention, while the racist one would likely grab all the headlines. Anyhow, you can read Clapton's onstage rant in full below.

"Do we have any foreigners in the audience tonight? If so, please put up your hands. Wogs I mean, I'm looking at you. Where are you? I'm sorry but some fucking wog... Arab grabbed my wife's bum, you know? Surely got to be said, yeah this is what all the fucking foreigners and wogs over here are like, just disgusting, that's just the truth, yeah.

"So where are you? Well wherever you all are, I think you should all just leave. Not just leave the hall, leave our country. You fucking [indecipherable]. I don't want you here, in the room or in my country. Listen to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch's our man. I think Enoch's right, I think we should send them all back.

"Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I'm into racism. It's much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans and fucking [indecipherable] don't belong here, we don't want them here.

"This is England, this is a white country, we don't want any black wogs and coons living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. We are a white country. I don't want fucking wogs living next to me with their standards.

"This is Great Britain, a white country, what is happening to us, for fuck's sake? We need to vote for Enoch Powell, he's a great man, speaking truth. Vote for Enoch, he's our man, he's on our side, he'll look after us. I want all of you here to vote for Enoch, support him, he's on our side. Enoch for Prime Minister!

"Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!"

Johnny Rotten on Elvis' Death - 'Good riddance to bad rubbish'

When rock legend Elvis Presley passed away in 1977, this is what Sex Pistols vocalist Johnny Rotten had to say: "Fuckin' good riddance to bad rubbish. I don't give a fuckin' shit, and nobody else does either. It's just fun to fake sympathy, that's all they're doin'."

Ted Nugent calls Hilary Clinton a 'toxic cunt,' Obama a 'subhuman mongrel,' warns America of 'Allahpuke zombies,' and more

When it comes to controversy, Mr. Nugent is a shoo-in to make the list. Here's a few candidates for the No. 1 Nuge rant:

On Hilary Clinton: "You probably can't use the term 'toxic cunt' in your magazine, but that's what she is. Her very existence insults the spirit of individualism in this country. This bitch is nothing but a two-bit whore for Fidel Castro."

On Barack Obama: "I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America."

On Allahpuke zambies: "9-11-14 is the day of infamy again. Unarmed and helpless Americans and Europeans will be viciously ambushed when they least expect it, and the death toll will be more brutal and widespread than all the peace and love dreamers could ever imagine.

"Those who carry guns had better gun and ammo up no matter where you go, carrying at least 10 spare mags or 10 spare speed-loaders because the allahpukes are confident they will once again methodically slaughter walking cowering whining cryin' helpless sitting ducks capable of zero resistance.

"To gullible naive embarrassing ill prepared targets, there is still time to firepower up ASAP. Head for cover but retain an attentiveness in order to identify the evildoers and dbl tap center mass, then two to the head. Then take cover and prepare your next evasive escape, taking down known jihadists to the best of your ability.

"Aim small miss small center mass and headshots, this is going to be the real deal & absolutely survivable against these 4th world allahpuke zombies. Stand! Go heavy, only a-sholes are outgunned, don't be outgunned or out-ammo'd. Good luck. Be safe, shoot straight and often, Godspeed, kill em all."

Sinead O'Connor Rips Pope's Picture

Back in 1992, during an appearance on the "Saturday Night Live Show," Sinead O'Connor made a strong statement against child abuse, albeit not a spoken one. While singing an a cappella rendition of Bob Marley's "War," she took the photo of Pope John Paul II and ripped it to pieces while pronouncing the word "evil." "Fight the real enemy," she added.

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Dave Mustaine: 'African women should put a plug in it'

Back in 2012, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine stirred things up quite a bit by going against people having kids when they clearly shouldn't. Needles to say, Dave's harsh vocabulary and the fact that he used African women as an example caused a lot of controversy.

His statement reads: "I really think that, if the parents aren't going to stick together, they shouldn't make that kind of commitment to life. I watch some of these shows from over in Africa, and you've got starving women with six kids. Well, how about, you know, put a plug in it? It's like, you shouldn't be having children if you can't feed them."

Gene Simmons - 'Rock is dead'

One of the most covered stories in 2014 was Gene Simmons comment about rock being "finally dead." All the coverage and public attention were enough to earn Mr. KISS a spot on the list, you can check out the statement below.

"Rock is finally dead. I am so sad that the next 15-year-old kid in a garage someplace in Saint Paul, that plugs into his Marshall and wants to turn it up to ten, will not have anywhere near the same opportunity that I did.

"He will most likely, no matter what he does, fail miserably. There is no industry for that anymore. And who is the culprit? There's always the changing tide of interests - music taste changes with each generation. To blame that is silly. That was always the exciting part, after all: 'What's next?' But there's something else.

"The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid's 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he's jamming with. The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity - they killed the artists they would have loved. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed, and now it won't, because it's that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.

"The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there's a copy left behind for you - it's not that copy that's the problem, it's the other one that someone received but didn't pay for. The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it.

"It's very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don't have a chance. If you play guitar, it's almost impossible. You're better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for 'The X Factor.' And I'm not slamming 'The X Factor,' or pop singers. But where's the next Bob Dylan? Where's the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators? Many of them now have to work behind the scenes, to prop up pop acts and write their stuff for them."

Phil Anselmo: 'WHITE POWER!'

The most recent example of controversial talk comes in the form of Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo's racist outburst at "Dimebash" Dimebag Darrell tribute show in California on January 22, 2016. As widely reported, Phil concluded the event by yelling "White power" and giving the crowd a "Sieg Heil" Nazi salute. After receiving heavy heat from the public and metal community, the singer has apologized.

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69 comments sorted by best / new / date

    "Rock is dead" is nothing compared to the disparaging things Simmons said about immigrants and those struggling with depression.
    I'm not sure why Dave Mustaine is up here. When asked about his beliefs he politely gave a response. Far more controversial statements that could of taken his place.
    Yeah. He just stated his opinion about it. And also, to me it sounded more like he just didn't really care about it. He kind of implied it was not his problem. He's not gay, gay marriage has nothing to do with him. He personally did not support gay marriage, but I don't know what his answer would be if he was asked if he was against gay marriage. But yeah, nothing really controversial about that. He didn't say anything hateful about gays or anything like that. He was asked about gay marriage and he gave his answer. Some people were actively against it. Dave didn't do that. To me it sounded like he didn't care about the whole thing.
    Sleeping in
    It was also a good point, maybe not so eloquently put but it displayed some level of wisdom.
    The Mustaine thing seems a little off to me. There are many musicians how sadly spoke against gay marriage, nothing controversial with that. I think Mustaines ''Put a plug in it!'' thing was way more controversial - I remember the discussions on here.
    friday.the.13th.jasonx · Jul 26, 2015 04:21 AM
    Fucking hell Clapton you seemed like a nice guy
    That was decades ago. Here's to hoping he's above denouncing "focking Pakis" at this point.
    I think Clapton is known for not being all that nice. Heck, he stole his best friend's wife...
    What's wrong with wanting to keep out immigrants? The majority are a burden on the economy and actual taxpayers have to support them.
    It's wrong to keep blacks out because they're black. No one said something about workforce. In his statement he clearly believes that England is white, and blacks are inferior. If they are a burden only depends on the person. Not the colour of their skin.
    One thing is having an anti inmigrant posture, other is being racist. Nothing in commong.
    I don't understand how he can be racist. He plays blues. Blues, as I'm sure you know, was the creation of the black community. His whole belief system contradicts the roots of his artistry.
    This was at the low point of his alcoholism. Having said that, it's pretty extreme what he said
    Why does it have to cause controversy if someone doesn't support gay marriage? Mustaine's not dissing anyone. That's obsession with political correctness for you I guess.
    Because not letting humans have human rights simply isn't logical
    True, but Dave wasn't [b]actively against gay marriage. Remember that he was asked if he [b]supports gay marriage, not if he's against gay marriage. And there's a difference between that. You can say "I don't support it, but I'm not against it either". Well, this is not what Dave said, but he was kind of saying it was not his problem - it had nothing to do with him. So I guess that means he was not actively against it.
    But just the fact that he doesn't support it by default means that he sees homosexuals as lower than everyone else and shouldn't have the same rights that everyone else, he may not be actively against but just the fact that that's his opinion makes him a bigot and an awful person
    I think you're falling into the whole 'if you're not with us you're against us' mentality. He made it clear that he has nothing against homosexuals, but feels it's not his battle to fight as it doesn't involve him in any way.
    Gene Simmons: "I cant afford to buy a concubine for every square inch of my cock this year. Rock is dead!"
    I think a lot of people completely misunderstood what David Bowie said there. He was NOT idolizing Hitler at all.
    As far as Bowie and Clapton's statements, if you check the dates of the quotes both guys were eyebrows deep in cocaine at the time. Not that drug use is an excuse but it's more likely that a person is going to say f-d up things when they are f-d up.That being said, Uncle Ted and Gene have no excuses for their stupidity.
    Being high on drugs doesn't magically change someone's fundamental political views.
    Regardless, what Clapton said was spot on. Just look at Europe today...it's a mess.
    It's a mess because of people like you. Give me a hard working immigrant over your racist ass any day.
    Amen. Immigration here in the US is bad enough, I couldn't imagine having an influx of Somalians and other largely unskilled immigrants like Europe has to suffer through.
    And yet most countries in the European Union have a way higher standard of social care, wealthfare and health care then the US. Also we have way less homeless people. Call it socialist, but I'm glad I'm not left dying because I can't work for 2 months, or can't afford medical care.
    Why does it have to cause controversy if someone doesn't support gay marriage? Mustaine's not dissing anyone. That's obsession with political correctness for you I guess.
    So lemme get this straight. Rock is dead is the same as Eric's massively racist and harmful rant? Rock is dead is the same as David Bowie outwardly supporting Fascism and Hitler? What the **** UG?
    Bowie was supporting authoritarianism, but I'm pretty sure he's talking about the effectiveness of Hitler's methods and not supporting his ideals.
    I feel like people like Uncle Ted might shut up if they actually had to live in a country where vocalizing certain forms of dissent can get you killed. Right now, he's enjoying the hell out of the ability to say all sorts of racist, moronic things. Some people should stick to singing about poontang and playing guitar.
    this list shows that you don't need to have a good brain to be a good musician
    Really cool article with lots of interesting info. Only recommendation would be to rank them in order of least controversial to most controversial.
    Musicians are not intellectuals
    Brian May has a PhD in Astrophysics. If that doesn't make him intellectual, I don't know what you're on.
    Hmm, I can agree with O'Connor & Rotten but, come on, the rest? Nugent? COME ON. What a bunch of classist, misogynistic, racist bunch of ****ing tools. You un-made my day, UG nah
    Sleaze Disease
    If you seriously believe that nobody cared about Elvis dying, then you're a complete and massive ****ing idiot.
    Nugent is dead on right, why do we cower on 911 instead of the terrorists? We should hit those bastards every anniversary of the Twin Tower bombings. They are killing Americans, Christians, Women, Homosexuals anyone who dares have a different thought. The reason we have to "Ammo Up" is because Obama is more concerned for the terrorist than he is for the Marines and Sailors being murdered by them.
    PePzi NL
    I stopped reading at "Nugent is dead on right". Well I didn't, but I wish I did.
    Nugent is cool too. mustaine became super-boring after he became a christian
    Damn it. I thought Eric Clapton was a nice person. I just can't stand racissts. I hate it when people offend others, only coz they have an other nationality. And what the hell is wrong with Rotten. As if no one would care about Elvis death. It was a human and he died. How can someone say such things? I can't imagine, how mean some persons are.
    One thing about Johnny Rotten is that he ALWAYS speaks from his heart, and says what EVERYONE else is thinking!! "...I don't give a fuckin' shit, and nobody else does either. It's just fun to fake sympathy, that's all they're doin'"
    Neither Simmons' or Mustaine's statements are very controversial imo..
    Seems to me that Bowie was just taking the piss, in an easily misinterpretable manner.