We live in a world where everybody is seeking their fifteen minutes of fame. Celebrities are worshipped; their public outbursts and tongue in cheek comments makes into breaking news of the day and long hours of weekend discussions. Every now and then, we come across news of who’s who in the music industry creating some controversy or the other. Many of them are mere gimmicks pulled off by wannabes to draw public attention. While there are few moments that have made even devote cynics stand up and notice.
We have tried to single out 10 such incidents that shocked not only the music fraternity, but the world at large.
Jim Morrison lets the snake out!
Jim Morrison was one of the most charismatic and influential frontmen in rock music history. His band members described him as a man who lived all his life on the edge. Controversy was his middle name. The man was accused of sparking riots when he tried to instigate the crowd against the police while on the stage.
However, the most talked about controversy was the case of ‘indecent exposure’ in 1969. While performing in The Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, Jim Morrison unzipped his pants in full view of the audience. A warrant was issued against him by the authorities while his band members defended him as being unhappy with the audience who came only to see his stage antics and not enjoy the music.
Rage against award decision
Pop artist have long complained about their losing awards to less deserving colleagues. Of late, a few have come up with interesting ways to get their point across. However, no one expected what happened during the 2000 MTV Video Music award.
Tim Commerford of Rage Against Machine was deeply aghast when his band lose out to Limp Bizkit for the title of Best Rock Video. So much so, that the bassist climbed a piece of set scaffolding and refused to come down to protest against the verdict.
Ozzy Osbourne bit more than he could chew
Ozzy Osbourne – the Black Sabbath frontman is worshipped world over as the Godfather of Heavy Metal. The man is known for his stage antics – which in a way – was responsible for propelling Black Sabbath into a population deeply in love with The Beatles.
“Let the madness begin” – this is how every Ozzy Osbourne concert is set in motion. Scene was no different while the band was performing in Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines in January, 1982. No one anticipated that Ozzy would bite off more than he could handle. The entire crowd watched in awe and disgust, mostly the latter, as he chomped a dead bat thrown at him. So much so, a week later, Ozzy collapsed onstage from the effects of rabies shots he’d been taking since the Big Bite.
Blood on the stage
Darrell Lance Abbott, also known as “Diamond” Darrell or “Dimebag” Darrell was the lead guitarist and founding member of the heavy metal band Pentera and Damage Plan. A regular entity in almost all ‘Top 10 metal guitarist’ list, Abbott earned the title of one of the most influential stylists in modern metal.
On December 8, 2004, Abbot was shot onstage at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio while playing with his band Damage Plan. The shooter shot Abbott thrice in the head which killed him instantly. The killer was a former US Marine whose paranoid schizophrenia caused delusions that the band (Pentera) could read his mind, and that they were “stealing” his thoughts and laughing at him.
Pope don’t preach
When Grammy award winner singer Sinead O’ Connor appeared as a musical guest on Saturday Night, no one had imagined her to protest over sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in the way she did. While singing Bob Marley’s ‘War’, she changed the lyrics from ‘racism’ to ‘child abuse’ and tore the picture of Pope John Paul II while singing the word ‘evil’.
The incident effectively destroyed her career, at least as far as topping the charts, but Sinead has persevered and remains a powerful voice in rock and folk music today.
Kanye Beats the Bush
Everyone knew that Grammy award winning American rapper Kanye West never liked President Bush. Demonstrating his views against George W. Bush, in a 2006 live orchestral performance of “All Falls Down”, West replaced “the White man gets paid off of all of that” with “George Bush gets paid off of all of that”
But nothing beats the live telecast of a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina relief, when he deviated from the script and told the audience, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Mike Meyers – Kanye’s screen partner during that nationally-televised farce, almost had a heart attack.
End of a ‘Thug life’
Late American rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur holds the Guinness Book of World Record for highest selling rap artist. Throughout his life, Tupac was involved in long legal battles with the administration. Sexual assault, shooting off-duty police officers, involvement in violent East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry – these are only a few of the cases against Tupac. The creatively talented rapper was shot down on September, 1996 by unknown gunman. Though it was the second attempt on his life, the hip hop fraternity all over the world grieved at his untimely demise.
State University of New York English professor Mark Anthony Neal indicated in his writings that the death of Shakur has left a “leadership void amongst hip-hop artists”. It is being said that after Tupac was cremated, some of his ashes was mixed with Marijuana and smoked by the members of his rap group ‘Outlawz’.
The Nipplegate Incident
The Super Bowl 2004 halftime show gave millions of television viewer in the United States something to talk about for the year and remember the rest of their lives. During the show, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson were performing a medley of their songs, when Justin reached his final line of “Rock Your Body”, “I’m gonna have you naked by the end of this song”, he did it for real! Justin pulled off Ms. Jackson’s costume revealing her right breast, much to the horror of the broadcasters.
The incident led to much media controversies and headlines. The Federal Communications Commission received more than half a million complaints against the incident and immediately slapped a fine of $550,000 on CBS.
Our Lord, Michael Jackson?
The BRIT Awards are equivalent to the Grammy’s in UK. In 1996, Michael Jackson was performing his “Earth Song”. In that over the top performance, the King of Pop portrayed himself as a Christ like figure surrounded by children, something which didn’t go down well with Jarvis Cocker, lead singer of Britpop band, Pulp.
The singer jumped on stage and waggled his bum in protest at Michael Jackson’s performance. The after effects – Cocker was arrested and it was claimed that he had assaulted Jackson’s child dancers – but he was released without charge and sales of Pulp’s Different Class album soared.
An ‘angry’ Queen of the Stone Age
During the Rock in Rio 2001 show, bassist Nick Oliveri of the band Queen of the Stone Age was arrested for going up to the stage naked, with only a bass guitar. This was nothing compared to what Jose Homme did in Norwegian Wood Festival in Oslo this year. The lead singer – suffering from fever during the show lost his cool when someone threw a shoe at him.
Not willing to take any nonsense from a rowdy festival fan, the sickly lead singer started to abuse the alleged culprit with liberal use of words that were offensive and at some point – unimaginable, especially when you are in front of 40,000 screaming fans. Many are disgusted by this verbal outbreak while others sympathized with the singer who was working hard despite being under the weather.