You wouldn’t want, or have wanted, these ten wild men of rock music anywhere near your daughters – or your homes…
I’ve excluded the likes of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett and Rolling Stone Brian Jones, as I considered them more vulnerable souls than wild ones. I don’t condone or glorify excesses of rock performers, but, here, I’m merely documenting some of their more outrageous behavior. Some rockers just harmed themselves, whereas others harmed others as well. As always, if inclined, put in your own choices in the comments box.
As has often been mentioned, it is amazing that Keith is still with us. The wildest Rolling Stone, Keith Richards inspired some wild rumors, including that he once had a complete blood transfusion to try and clean out the blood from his drug-addled body. But he has his good points. When the hell of Altamont was descending in 1969, Richards, to his credit, and bravely, was quick to condemn the Hell’s Angels who were beating up a girl. Keith Richards also, ironically, helped Stones drummer Charlie Watts through his own drugs hell. Keith has looked about 100 for the last 30 years, so if he manages to reach that milestone he won’t have aged since he was about 35.
It’s fair to say that Ozzy Osbourne is a reformed character – a far cry from his appalling and well documented cruelty towards animals, even his own, in the past. The former Black Sabbath frontman is now looked upon as a cuddly, albeit confused, old rocker, who took a few thousand drugs too many. Indicative of the changing values in society itself, and the disturbing worship of celebrity, you wonder if anything Ozzy did now would be frowned upon.
‘Moon the Loon’ summed up Who drummer Keith Moon. A restless ball of energy on and off stage, Moon defined rock and roll bad boy behavior, when allegedly driving a Rolls-Royce into a swimming pool. Fondly remembered by most who knew him, Keith Moon chose some wild company to hang out with, including Beatles John Lennon and Ringo Starr, singer Harry Nilsson, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, and actors Oliver Reed and Larry Hagman. But the boy could drum, and, along with Bonham, Keith is probably the most respected drummer in rock history. More of a drinker than a drug user, Keith Moon died aged only 32, when he was, perversely, cleaning up his act. Keith Moon’s drink problems escalated in 1970 after he ran over and killed his own chauffeur Cornelius ‘Neil’ Boland, after some English skinheads had been attacking Moon’s Bentley. In the commotion, chauffeur Boland had come out of the car to protest, and as Moon tried to steer the car away from danger, the Who drummer was unaware that his own chauffeur was under the wheels.
The only real talent former Sex Pistol bassist Sid Vicious had was for being notorious. A mutually destructive relationship with fellow heroin addict Nancy Spungen made sure he never made it to his 22nd birthday. Sid’s rendition of Eddie Cochran’s C’mon Everybody and a hilarious, anarchistic take on Frank Sinatra’s My Way were his career highlights. He couldn’t really play his bass, but he fitted in with the Pistols increasingly unpleasant image. When friend Johnny Rotten left the Sex Pistols in January 1978, a possible stabilizing influence on Vicious had gone with him. After Sid’s girlfriend, Nancy, was found dead with a stab wound, Vicious was the prime suspect, and he joined Nancy soon after – killed by a heroin overdose in February 1979.
The sight of a befuddled looking Jim Morrison being roughly taken off stage by police is one of the most famous images of music bad boy behavior gone public. Doors singer Morrison was often in trouble for his provocative stage performances (which actually influenced Iggy Pop), most notoriously of all after being arrested for allegedly exposing himself at a Miami concert. Jim Morrison’s lyrics were sometimes similarly outrageous, including the mesmeric, winding The End, with its dark, disturbing patricidal and Oedipal edge. Jim was found dead in his bath, and didn’t make it to 30.
Mutilating himself on stage is Iggy Pop’s most shocking claim to fame, though some would say it’s promoting car insurance… Iggy has had drug problems, checked himself into an asylum, and has never been shy about showing his body… Often called the godfather of punk, Iggy Pop is a rock and roll survivor, and, like a lot of rock’s wild men, he’s deceptively intelligent. I Wanna Be Your Dog, No Fun and Lust for Life are three great rock anthems which means Iggy can die content with his legacy.
Drummers tend to be nuts, and Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham didn’t disappoint. ‘Bonzo’ mixed with the likes of Keith Moon and Oliver Reed, and Ringo Starr was once a victim of Bonham and Reed’s pranks when they shaved his head and eyebrows. All three were arrested for drunkenness in France along with Inspector Clouseau himself, Peter Sellers! Bonham could drink for England, and the day before his death in 1980, he had a breakfast of a ham sandwich and four quadruple vodkas, and drank heavily throughout the day. John Bonham was only 32 when he was found dead the next morning.
Surprise, surprise, another wild drummer. The Mötley Crüe drummer’s relationship with actress Pamela Anderson was rarely out of the public eye, and the couple’s notorious sex video hardly damaged the careers of either. Intelligent and personable, Tommy Lee supports animal welfare and green issues. Lee also knows how to put on a show, and has performed playing the drums while he and they are were literally over the heads of the audience. That said, Mötley Crüe are really a wild rock band cliché!
The name says it all. Combine the first name of an iconic film star with the surname of a monster, and you’ve already offended people before opening your mouth! Unfairly slammed by some for inciting the Columbine shootings in 1999 with his lyrics, Marilyn Manson is intelligent, but with album titles like Antichrist Superstar he was always asking for trouble.
A bit square in his old age, with a passion for golf, Alice Cooper brought horror into the rock arena, and appalled animal welfare campaigners when his fans ripped apart a live chicken at one of his concerts. Though a lot of his songs remain thrilling, I’m with the animal welfare people.
It’s been exhausting writing about these ten guys. Imagine partying with them…
Keith Richards Biography – Yahoo! Movies
‘Moon the Loon’ tops poll as rock’s most excessive rogue – The Independent
IGGY-POP.COM: Iggy Pop Biography
BBC – BBC 6 Music Programmes – The John Bonham Story