When your day revolves around groupies, chugging liquor and shooting up drugs, you’re bound to shake a few screws loose. Going on to perform hours of head banging rock music to hordes of adoring fans apparently gives them above-the-law status: people let the antics of rock stars slide.
It’s accepted as the price of fame, but what happens when their shenanigans stop being funny? Sure, the constantly flowing booze leads to situations like Ozzy Osbourne getting caught short in Texas and peeing in public. Reports claim he desecrated the Alamo leading to a ten-year ban from San Antonio.
A drugged-up Iggy Pop allowed the blood from his vein to squirt on the walls of the house they lived and recorded in. Iggy wasn’t the only one; all the other members of his group, the Stooges, also did this wacky blood-letting mural painting of the interior of their Detroit ‘Fun House.’
We’ve all heard the tales of Keith Moon throwing perfectly good TVs into every hotel pool the band stayed in. Moon also had a thing for literally blowing up toilet seats. He toured with an assortment of cherry bombs, M-80s and dynamite. This borderline manic behavior got him banned from every Holiday Inn, Sheraton and Hilton in America.
These antics seem childish and even cute, but it doesn’t always stay funny. Some musicians have committed terrible crimes while under the influence. Others have done worse stuff while stone-cold sober.
Maybe it’s the pressure of performing. Maybe it’s a fragile mental state from all the raging. Maybe it’s something deeper. Whatever it is, here are ten shocking crimes carried out by rock musicians.
10. Pete Townshend – The Who
Guitarist to The Who, Pete Townshend had a few run-ins with the British police in the 60s, for minor assault and property damage. But in 2002, he found himself under caution by the police when he was snared in a child pornography sting.
Operation Ore was an operation that the British police used to track visitors to a website that featured child pornography. Townshend claimed to have no knowledge of how his credit card was used on the site, but he was cautioned and placed on the sex offender registry for five years.
9. Michael Todd – Coheed And Cambria
In 2011, American progressive rock band Coheed and Cambria were on tour with Soundgarden, and were about to start a show in Mansfield, Massachusetts. An hour before the show, Michael Todd, the band’s bassist, visited a nearby drug store and showed the pharmacist a note on his phone. His note claimed he had a bomb and was going to detonate it if his demands weren’t met.
He wasn’t looking for anything major; a few bottles of Oxycontin would do just fine. He fled by taxi with six bottles and joined the group as they took to the stage at the Comcast Center. He was soon arrested and sentenced to one year of house arrest plus a three-year probation. A few months later, he and the band parted ways.
8. Todd Harrell – 3 Doors Down
As a founding member and bass player of 3 Doors Down, Todd Harrell has had his time in the spotlight. But he’s been in the news for a string of offenses rather than his music. He has been arrested three times for DUI offenses within two years.
One incident in April 2013 led to the death of 47-year-old Paul Howard Shoulders, Jr. Arrested for vehicular homicide, the judge blamed Harrell’s doctor for giving him too much of the prescription medication blamed for the crash. In a 30-day period, the doctor had given Harrell 360 Oxycodone and 60 Oxycontin pills.
In 2014, Harrell was placed under house arrest to await his trial. In February 2014, Harrell was arrested for a DUI, which prompted the band to suspend him indefinitely.
7. Jim Gordon – Eric Clapton, Alice Cooper, Fran Zappa, The Beach Boys
Jim Gordon started his music career at 17, backing The Everly Brothers, on drums. He soon became such a popular session drummer that he was flying from LA to Vegas every single day. He jammed with Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker, all the way to Frank Zappa.
Developing schizophrenia in his mid 30s, Gordon began hearing voices which prevented him from eating or even sleeping. In June 1983, these “voices” instructed him to kill his mother. He did by first smashing her head in with a hammer, before stabbing her in the heart three times. In July 1984, he was sentenced to 16 years to life for second-degree murder. Awaiting parole, he spends his time shuffling between prison hospitals and dreaming of a jam session with Eric Clapton.
6. Tim Lambesis – As I Lay Dying
Being a multi-talented singer, Tim Lambesis had his finger in many pies. He was lead vocalist for metal band As I Lay Dying, played guitar for Point of Recognition, and formed a thrash metal band dedicated to actor Arnold Schwarzenegger called Austrian Death Machine.
In 2013, he was arrested for allegedly soliciting an undercover detective to murder his wife of eight years. Initially denying the allegation, his defense later blamed steroid abuse for his altered thought process. Pleading guilty in February, he began a six year sentence in May 2014.
5. Ronnie Radke – Falling In Reverse
After getting kicked out of hardcore band Escape the Fate, Ronnie Radke joined Falling in Reverse in 2008. His dismissal stemmed from a two and a half year jail sentence he served for being an accessory to a 2006 murder. Initially offered probation and house arrest, his addiction to drugs meant he quickly violated those conditions and he was jailed.
Since getting out in 2010, Radke has been arrested for alleged domestic violence abuse against his girlfriend, failing to appear in court and injuring fans at a Six Flags concert. In June 2015, Radke was accused of participating in a gang rape of a 25-year old woman.
4. Paul Francis Gadd – Gary Glitter
As the rocker behind the sports arena anthem “Rock and Roll, Part 2”, Gary Glitter performs at many games every year. But his legacy is tarnished by repeated convictions for child molestation and child pornography.
Arrested in 1997 for possessing thousands of pornographic images of children, he served four months in jail and was placed on the sex offender registry. Upon his release, he fled to Cambodia where he was deported and banned. He moved on to Vietnam, where he was arrested after two underage girls claimed he had sex with them, in 2005.
He was sentenced to jail, with a mandatory deportation after serving his sentence. He served three months before being deported to the UK. Following the exposure of Jimmy Savile’s crimes in 2012, Glitter – a known associate – was arrested again. In February 2015, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
3. Phil Rudd – AC/DC
For most of his career, Phil Rudd had flown under the radar enjoying the perks of playing with AC/DC. That was until he was fired from the band in 1983, due to conflict with founder Malcolm Young. Retiring to New Zealand, he spent his time car racing, farming and flying choppers till he rejoined the band in 1993.
Following an arrest and conviction for marijuana possession in 2010, Rudd was arrested again in 2014. This time, for attempting to arrange a murder, threatening to kill and for possession of marijuana and meth. Out on bail, he awaits sentencing on July 9.
2. Ozzy Osbourne – Black Sabbath
What more would you expect from a crew led by the legendary Ozzy Osbourne? As a leader of his band, he paved the way with his insane antics. Blaming it on the booze, Ozzy has bitten the heads off doves, stripped and urinated in a wine glass during a meeting with CBS and almost murdered wife Sharon while drunk.
His band mates also have quite a wild streak; during a police raid on Tony Iommi‘s flat in 1968, they found cannabis resin. This led to a fine and two year conditional discharge. While recording Born Again in 1983, the group detonated fireworks in a private lake, blowing the resident carp to smithereens.
These days, Ozzy seems to have chilled out, but his band mate Geezer Butler was arrested in January following a bar brawl in California.
1. Peter Yarrow – Peter, Paul and Mary
“Puff, the Magic Dragon”. Ring any bells?
This ditty from 1963 was penned and performed by the folk singing group, Peter, Paul and Mary. The song, supposedly about the “lost innocence of childhood”, quickly became a pop music classic. An exceptional student in high school, Peter Yarrow enrolled in Cornell to study psychology. He soon found he liked to write and perform songs.
Joining the group in 1961, they had a successful career as folk singers, even winning a Grammy with the album “Peter, Paul and Mommy.” Since then, his career has been tainted by an incident in 1970. He invited a 17 year old fan who wanted an autograph to his room with her 14 year old sister. Yarrow made sexual advances towards the 14 year old, forcing her to perform a sex act on him. Pleading guilty to “taking indecent liberties”, he was arrested and jailed for three months.
Though President Jimmy Carter pardoned him in 1981, the stigma hangs over his public activities till date. A recent example was the boycotting of a gala held in his honor at the La Guardia HS for the Performing Arts in 2014.