From Kanye West to Rage Against The Machine, we’ve seen our fair share of bold moments in musical history. The following is a collection of events from the last 50 years in music that have played their part in forming an outrageous industry that thrives off dynamic expression.
It’s no surprise that Kanye West has made this list with one of the most infamous moments in VMAs history. After beating Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It), Taylor Swift claimed victory in the Best Female Video category for You Belong With Me at the 2009 VMAs.
Just minutes after Swift accepted the award and started her acceptance speech, West stormed the stage and took the microphone from Swift to proclaim that Beyonce deserved the award. Before Swift could continue, West announced “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ll let you finish, but Beyonce has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!” Leave it to Kanye West to leave an audience speechless.
At the height of his career in 1989, Billy Idol infamously spent three weeks hosting wild parties in his Oriental Hotel Penthouse in Bangkok. During a three-week sex-and-drug spree, Idol was charged $149,000 by the Thailand institution for room fees and hotel damages, which he naturally ignored. After refusing to vacate the room, Idol was forcefully withdrawn from the hotel by the Thailand military on a stretcher after being shot by a tranquilliser dart.
Rage Against The Machine
At the 1993 Lollapalooza Festival in Philadelphia, Rage Against The Machine’s four members stepped out in front of their audience entirely naked, with duct tape over their mouths and the letters ‘PMRC’ spelt across their chests.
Protesting against censorship within the music industry, the band had abbreviated on their chests the Parents Music Resource Centre, which was a group formed in 1985 that pushed for cautionary ratings on albums giving advanced notice of sexually explicit or violent lyrics. However, instead of playing their music, Rage Against The Machine just propped their instruments against the amps and stood in all their glory as a force of political engagement, which, unsurprisingly, did not go down well with the audience.
Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
During a 1984 show, Red Hot Chilli Peppers bassist Michael Balzary (aka Flea) cut his thumb open from aggressively playing his guitar. Instead of going straight to the hospital for stitches, he picked up a bottle of superglue and sealed up his wound.
In an interview, Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan recalled the incident, saying “Flea was playing so aggressively that he had worn a hole in his thumb and he was literally screaming in pain in-between songs because it hurt so bad. Someone kept coming out and pouring crazy glue into the hole.“
John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)
During Led Zeppelin’s stay at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont hotel, drummer John Bonham took destroying property to the next level. Bonham decided to ride a motorbike through the hotel lobby, which surprisingly caused a lot less damage than you would expect. He not only did this stunt once (but twice) in the same tour, which earns himself a rightful spot on this outrageous list.
On a 1992 episode of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O’Connor ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II in a protest against the Catholic Church’s culture that suppressed evidence of child sex abuse amongst clergymen. The studio audience was shocked into silence and there were reports that the NBC received over 4,000 calls in response to O’Connor’s actions, with only a handful of people praising her.
At his US live debut, 24-year-old Jimi Hendrix cemented what it means to be a rockstar as an art form. At the Monetary International Pop Festival in June 1967, Hendrix brought the audience to his attention when he doused his Fender Stratocaster in lighter fluid and set fire to it as a memorable way to end the set.
Courtney Love is a sharp and talented figure in the music world that is often written off as Kurt Cobain’s widow. However, she has had her fair share of outrageous moments.
During a 2002 interview with Music Monthly Q Magazine, Love allegedly got a bikini wax in front of the journalist, poured a bottle of champagne over her head and proceeded to run down Park Lane naked.
Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)
Rolling Stones band member Keith Richards had admitted to using a variety of substances in his time, however, one of his confessions proved more bizarre than others.
In a 2007 interview to NME Magazine, Richards revealed that he once tried to snort his father’s ashes mixed in with cocaine. “He was cremated and I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn’t have cared, he didn’t give a shit. It went down pretty well, and I’m still alive.“
During a set at the Toronto Rock n Roll Revival Festival in 1969, the original Alice Cooper group were performing their psychedelic debut Pretties For You, which claimed their already infamous status. However, during the gig, a fan threw a chicken on stage and Cooper himself responded by throwing it back into the crowd, which in turn tore it into pieces.