There’s a scene in every movie about celebrity excess that we’re all familiar with. The celebrity is on tour, and indulging in a wide variety of substances and the next thing you know? The hotel room looks like a hurricane hit it: the TV’s out the window, the food’s everywhere but on the plate and there’s…something… on the walls and it looks organic. Admittedly, celebrities are less likely to let destructive impulses run loose these days, but when they do, they seem like they’re making up for lost time. take a look at our list of wild celebrities who have famously destroyed hotel rooms.
Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald, 1927
Let’s start at the beginning. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were flapper icons, Zelda for her fashion sensibilities, Scott for his literary skills (most famously The Great Gatsby), and both of them for their party-heavy lifestyle.
Anyways, in January of 1927, the Fitzgeralds went to Hollywood, as United Artists had hired Scott to write a flapper comedy, and they were staying in an Ambassador Bungalow, at the luxurious Ambassador Hotel. While there, Scott and Zelda’s relationship, tumultuous at the best of times, came under a cloud as Scott struck up a friendship with actress Lois Moran. One night, while Scott was having dinner with the actress, Zelda put all the clothes she’d packed (many of them her own design) into the bungalow’s bathtub, and set them on fire. Reports vary- some say she also put the bungalow’s furniture to the torch as well. Either way, the couple had to leave the bungalow, and the Ambassador Hotel, thanks to the fire damage and the unspecified bill they’d run up prior to it. The fight continued as they traveled home, with Zelda throwing a platinum watch that Scott had given her during their courtship out the window of a moving train.
Johnny Depp, September 13, 1994
And you thought Johnny Depp was one of the calmer celebrities out there. Maybe that’s true now, but in 1994, it was a different story. On September 13th, 1994 hotel guests’ rest was interrupted by the sound of smashing and a fight. Police were called, and they entered the $1,200 per night suite to find Johnny Depp and then-girlfriend Kate Moss in a room trashed to the tune of $9,767 in damages. Depp was taken to 19th Precinct, where he was booked on felony criminal mischief charges. He, however, maintained that it was the armadillo’s fault.
According to Depp, he’d found an armadillo in one of the closets, and it had lost its mind, wrecking the room before escaping out the window. In a neat twist of fate, one of the guests disturbed was Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who (we’ll get to their antics later), who decried Depp’s destruction as amateur, claiming the Who could have done the same amount of damage in about a minute.
Edie Sedgwick, 1966
The muse to Andy Warhol and one of the sixties’ It Girls, Edie Sedgwick cuts a fascinating figure through pop-culture history. You could even say she helped blaze a trail for future hotel-room-trashing glamor girls, after her stay at the Chelsea Hotel (and really, she deserves extra points for trashing the Chelsea Hotel, the heart of the Bohemian 60s). After falling asleep with a lit cigarette, and lighting her apartment on fire, Sedgwick moved into the Chelsea Hotel. There, despite a warning from Leonard Cohen, she indulged her habit of sleeping by candlelight. You can guess what happened. After the smoke cleared, she was moved into room 105, directly above the lobby, reportedly so that staff could keep an eye on her. She stayed at the Chelsea hotel until 1966 a nervous breakdown saw her returning to California to be with her family.
Courtney Love, 2007
Courtney Love, one of the original riot grrls, and lead singer of Hole, has still got it. You’d expect stories of hotel trashings from Hole’s heyday, but Courtney Love’s no quitter. While celebrating her birthday in July 2007, she did quite a bit of damage. She started the evening by playing some new songs at Bush Hall, and went out partying before returning to her luxury suite at the Covent Garden Hotel (where the cheap rooms are $590 a night), and keeping the party going. The next day saw staff reportedly stunned by the destruction, with cigarette butts and burns everywhere amidst general disarray.
Marilyn Manson, 1998
No one’s surprised by Manson’s presence on the list, I’m guessing. The shock-rocker’s got a reputation to uphold, after all. In 1998, after performing at the Poughkeepsie Civic Center and partying so hard in the backstage common room that the fire department were called (a t-shirt was lit on fire, but was extinguished before the firefighters arrived), they retired to their rooms at the Sheraton hotel. They continued the party there, burning carpets, making an unholy amount of noise, and staining sinks and bathtubs with hair dye. The most impressive part of this? According to the hotel’s manager, Manson took full responsibility for the damage, and paid for all of it without a word of complaint. That’s the classy way to destroy a hotel room, right there.
Billy Idol, 1989
Billy Idol, the 80s punk-rocker, famous both for his songs and his bleach blond hair, has ensured that Bangkok won’t be forgetting about him. While other stars were singing about the perils and joys of one night in Bangkok, Billy Idol took three weeks. While staying at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok (one of the more expensive hotels in the world, where you can spend upwards of $1200 a night for a suite), he embarked on a debauchery tour. The details still haven’t emerged, but he rock legend states he indulged in every vice he could get his hands on, racking up a bill that reached the astronomical height of $250,000 for the both the extended party and damages to the room. And it gets wilder: reportedly, he refused to leave the hotel at the end of his stay, leading to the rumor that he was tranquilized and carried out on a stretcher by the local military.
The Rolling Stones, 1972
We’re onto the classics now. The rock bands who made hotel-trashing famous. At the L.A. stop on the Rolling Stones’ 1972 North American tour, Keith Richards and Bobby Keyes committed perhaps the most iconic piece of hotel vandalism in rock history while staying at the Continental Hyatt House. Waiting until documentary filmmaker Robert Frank’s camera was rolling, the two took the TV from room 1015, and sent it sailing off the balcony and down to the parking lot ten stories below, with a quip of ‘television’s boring anyway’ from Bobby Keyes. You can watch it go down on youtube, and the results are visible at the Continental Hyatt House, where the TV’s are now bolted down and the balconies have been removed.
One of the most popular and long-lasting rock bands out there, Aerosmith’s earned its place on this list. While there aren’t as many stories about specific incidences of hotel destruction in Aerosmith’s touring history, they have to get points for the manner in which they went about it. They had a reputation of a party band, and with that, one for heavy drug use that shocked and worried veteran sixties rockers like Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. And they trashed hotel rooms and ran up ridiculous bills (including room service bills that reached the tens of thousands of dollars) with the best of them. But according to reports, they planned for their destruction, bringing chainsaws on tour to decimate hotel furniture more effectively and extension cords, so that dropping TVs into swimming pools would really make sparks fly.
Led Zeppelin, 1960s-70s, (especially 1969 and 1978)
The Rolling Stones may have had the iconic hotel-trashing, but Led Zeppelin has the reputation for taking it to extremes. It’s difficult to separate fact from fiction in regards to the stories about their behavior, which was so outrageous it was used as a basis for the cult rock movie Spinal Tap. They threw furniture against walls and out windows, and consumed massive amounts of drugs, booze and sex. The two most famous incidents are almost a decade apart, but make most of the other incidents on this list look tame. In 1969, there was a sex act involving a dead shark and a groupie covered in fish entrails (…ok let’s all shudder this out together: ugh), though the details, thankfully, remain hazy. And 1978, the group raced a motorcycle down the halls of their Hollywood hotel.
The Who, 1967
The Who. Like Led Zeppelin, their repertoire of hotel destruction is both long and storied. So let’s just talk about the night that got them banned from the Holiday Inn franchise for life. On August 23rd, 1967, while on tour in Flint, Michigan, drummer Keith Moon celebrated his twenty-first birthday. The evening started with drinking, and when the five-tier cake was brought out? Moon threw the whole thing into the partying crowd, starting a massive food fight. Sometime during the night, all the fire extinguishers on the floor were emptied.
When the police arrived, Moon fled the scene in a Lincoln continental (after stripping down to his underwear, which must have made sense at the time). The getaway drive didn’t go so well, as he drove it through a fence and was forced to abandon the vehicle at the bottom of the hotel pool. Finally, after extricating himself from the Lincoln, he slipped on a piece of marzipan, and knocked out his front teeth. The end result? A $24,000 damages bill and the band being banned for life from any and all Holiday Inns.
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