Rock history has graced us with a multitude of memorable onstage meltdowns, but here are a few of the very best.
Posted on Apr 29, 2011 02:42 pm
Do you remember a time when you simply lost control? A time when something upset you so much that you disregarded rationality and sanity in favor of rage and chaotic behavior? If so, don't worry, you're not alone. Everyone living outside of the most serene Buddhist temples can probably remember a time when they flew off the handle and ended up with an embarrassing story to tell.
You go out drinking with your friends and tell the story and everyone laughs and laughs, then shares their own story about the time they got into such a heated argument over which "Matrix" sequel is better that they ended up slamming their fist on the glass coffee table and shattering it. Or, you know, whatever story they have. (If you're reading this, Mom, sorry about the table).
Luckily for most of us, our meltdowns happen in front of a small group of friends or family, and not on a stage in front of thousands of people. When a musician freaks out on stage, it becomes a media event, a Twitter phenomenon, an embarrassment of epic proportions. It's like watching a train wreck, or MTV - it's terrible, but you can't look away. Rock history has graced us with a multitude of memorable onstage meltdowns, but here are a few of the very best.
The Everly Brothers Break Up On Stage
The Everly Brothers are the Billboard Hot 100's most successful American rock duo of all time, but that doesn't mean they haven't had their share of drama. In 1973, during a show in Hollywood, the brothers were in the middle of their set when the venue's manager came on stage to alert the crowd that the show had been cancelled due to Don Everly being "too emotional" to play. In reality, Don was too drunk to remember the lyrics and guitar parts to the songs. His skipped notes and forgotten lyrics enraged his brother Phil, who proceeded to smash his guitar mid-show and storm out of the building, promising he would "never get on stage with that man again".
Scott Stapp's Performance Leads To Fan Lawsuit
Itts fairly common knowledge that Creed's Scott Stapp embraced drugs and alcohol with arms wide open during the band's rise to fame in the late 90s and early 2000s, a tendency that ultimately manifested itself in a 2002 performance in Chicago that was so poor the fans decided to sue the band for a refund.
That night, Stapp reportedly staggered to the stage, obviously drunk, and tried to play the show. He nearly fell down numerous times, and performed most of the show sitting or lying on the stage, unable to get back up. According to a lawsuit filed by fans, Stapp was "unable to sing the lyrics to a single Creed song". He slammed his microphone down and wandered backstage multiple times throughout the show, and appeared to pass out on stage at one point. Ultimately the fans' request for a refund was not honored, and Creed broke up a year later. The incident remains one of the only times a band has been slapped with a class action lawsuit in music history.
Ryan Adams Personally Pays Heckler To Leave
Alt-country rocker Ryan Adams is a generally mild-mannered performer, known to play folksy music and heartfelt, intimate live shows. Just don't confuse him with Canadian "Summer Of '69" rocker Bryan Adams.
In 2006, Adams was playing a show in Nashville when a heckler began to mock him, requesting that he play "Summer Of '69". Not finding that very funny at all, Adams asked that the house lights be turned on, and with help from fans, identified the heckler. He then waded into the audience and handed the man $28 to cover his ticket price, and refused to continue the show until the heckler had "left the house". Ultimately the man left the building and the show continued, and no one requested any Bryan Adams for the rest of the night. The Bryan Adams / Ryan Adams confusion eventually faded as Ryan's fame grew and peaked in the mid-2000s. If you asked Ryan, he might even tell you that those were the best days of his life.
Billy Corgan Invites Fan Onstage, Then Insults Him
In 2008, notoriously emotional Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan was playing the second of a two-night concert at United Palace in New York when he stopped the show and asked a fan to come onstage to critique the Pumpkins' performance from the previous night. The nigh''s performance had been panned by critics, consisting of rehashed old material and a jumble of cover songs.
The courageous fan told Corgan to his face that the show sucked, which evidently didn't go down very well with the Pumpkins vocalist. Billy told the fan "I liked that song you wrote: [title unfit to print], it was a big hit in Europe". Pure class, Billy. The incident cemented Corgan's reputation as a brazen rock star who cares little for what critics, and apparently fans, have to say about his music.
Axl Rose, Need I Say More?
Axl Rose has a long and decorated history of onstage meltdowns, though two incidents stand out particularly prominently, as his behavior triggered riots on both occasions.
In July 1991, Guns N' Roses was performing in St. Louis, Missouri when Axl noticed a fan with recording equipment in the front of the audience. Stopping mid-song, Rose yelled to security: "Take that! Get that guy, and take that! I'll take it!..." Rose dove headfirst into the crowd, intending to personally take the camera from the offending fan. The bouncers pulled him back on to the stage, where he proceeded to insult the venue's security team before slamming down his microphone and storming off stage, taking the band with him. When the house lights came on ten minutes later, the fans began to riot, causing extensive structural damage and sending 60 people to the hospital. Guns N' Roses was banned from performing in St. Louis ever again for the incident.
His next major meltdown occurred a year later, during a co-headlining tour with Metallica. In Montreal, Metallica was forced to play an abbreviated set when singer James Hetfield was severely burned by a pyrotechnics display. As was his custom, Axl was late to the venue, rendering the band helpless as they waited for their singer to show up as the crowd grew unruly. Eventually Guns took the stage, ostensibly saving the day for the thousands of paying fans in attendance. However, after about 50 minutes, Axl began to complain about voice problems and left the stage unexpectedly. The show was over. Angry fans again began to riot, and the violence spilled into the city streets, where police had difficulty controlling the chaos.
When it comes to onstage meltdowns, it's hard to top the guy that personally caused two riots; whose tantrums are so legendary that venues begin preparing for Guns N' Roses shows by assembling their best legal teams; who is known more for his short temper than his creative abilities. Axl Rose is the undisputed champion of the onstage meltdown.
Almost makes that coffee table seem insignificant. Right, mom?
By Alex Larsen