The 8 Ball 11.30.13: Top 8 Crazy True Rock Stories
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 11.30.2013
From KISS making a comic book out of their own blood and Suge Knight solving a contract dispute with Eazy-E via a lead pipe to Steven Tyler becoming his teen girlfriend's legal guardian and more, 411's Jeremy Thomas breaks down the top 8 crazy true rock stories!
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Music Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, I will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!
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Welcome, one and all, to the Music Zone 8 Ball! I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and managed to get some good deals if you were brave enough to venture out into the commercially-zoned carnage that was Black Friday. (We at 8 Ball HQ prefer online deals.) This week we're doing the sequel to a column that was first run all the way back in February, the Top 8 Rock and Roll myths. While there are many tales like those ones which are too crazy to be true, there's a reason why they exist: because there are just as many stories of outrageous rock star behavior which happen to be true. This week it's time to count down those stories which are so insane that they couldn't have been made up, because no one would have thought of them.
Caveat: My criterion for this week was relatively simple: to qualify, a story had to be one that, if I didn't know it was true, I would have assumed it was an urban legend. Obviously there's some perspective here: with a guy like Ozzy Osbourne the bar is higher than, say, Donny Osmond. Outside of that, the sky was the limit.
Just Missing The Cut
• Keith Moon Deafens Pete Townshend With His Exploding Drum Set
• Ozzy Osbourne Bites the Head Off a Dove
• Jim Morrison Gets Naked Mid-Concert
• Jerry Lee Lewis Marries His Cousin
• James Hetfield Is Incinerated During Metallica Concert
#8: Iggy Pop Gets in a Fight on Live Album
If there's one thing you can say about punk music, it is that the genre probably has the highest attitude-to-talent ratio of any kind of music since the beginning of sound. And that's not a slam against punk music; it's more a statement about how much attitude there was. One of the foremost examples of that was Iggy Pop, the Godfather of Punk. The former Stooges frontman is renowned for his antics on stage and off; he is credited (true or not) with being the first performer to do a stage dive, and at the very least he popularized it. He's done countless off-the-wall things in his career, but the craziest may just be getting the snot beat out of him on a recorded live album.
The album in question is Metallic K.O., which was released in 1976. To add to the wackiness of this story before we even get started, the original LP doesn't contain just one show, but instead the first half of a show from October 1973 and the last half of a show from February 1974, both of which took place at the Michigan Palace in Detroit. (The 1988 double album Metallic 2X K.O. contains the full version of both shows.) The latter performance was the Stooges' final show before they broke up and stayed that way for thirty years, and is where the incident took place. Before the concert, Pop did an interview on radio in which he challenged the Scorpions--an outlaw motorcycle gang, not the band--to a fight. The Scorpions, predictably, showed up at the concert and started throwing everything from beer jugs and eggs to urine and shovels at the stage. Iggy, never one to be too keen about the concept of de-escalation, continued to rile them up with constant insults and the band capped it all off with a forty-five minute of "Louie, Louie" that included improvised lyrics insinuating things about the gang's sexual orientation, among other things. Pop then pointed at one of the bikers and threatened him if he continued to heckle. Predictably he didn't stop, and Pop then jumped off the stage which resulted in a beating so bad that it (mercifully) ended the concert and got Iggy sent to the hospital. To this day you can listen to that recording and hear the madness unfold.
#7: Serge and Charlotte Gainsbourg's Incest Song
There are a lot of bizarre songs out there, and many of them are because of strange stories regarding their recording or the inspiration behind them. There are none of them quite as insane and unbelievable as the idea of Serge Gainsbourg and his twelve-year old daughter Charlotte recording a song together about incest. I'm not kidding. The song was recorded in 1984 and managed to be a successful single, at least in France where it hit #2 on the charts. Now to be fair, the song is somewhat vague on that front, but the title makes it pretty damned clear. And just in case you had any doubt as to whether the topic was supposed to be metaphorical, the music video features Serge lying shirtlessly on a bed next to his pre-teen daughter, who herself is in a button-down shirt and her panties.
This was one of those situations where controversy didn't quite pay off, for the record. The elder Gainsbourg had a hit, but he spent the last seven years of his life denying that he had ever maintained or desired a sexual relationship with his daughter in periodic intervals, while Charlotte has had it brought up at regular intervals to this day. Still though, this is one of those ideas where you couldn't possibly believe that they would come up with it as a viable idea, much less actually go through with it. To this day I'm not entirely sure how they thought it was a good idea.
#6: Keith Richards Snorts His Dad
Ah, Keith Richards. When you talk about the legends of rock and roll, his is one of the names that immediately come to mind. And when I say "legends of rock and roll," I mean that in just about every way possible; his experiences are as mythical as his guitar playing is amazing. There are a host of myths regarding Richards that are not true, but his drug use is renowned (if such a thing can be renowned) and as crazy as this one is, it's true: in a 2007 interview, Richards admitted to having snorted the remains of his own father.
Richards was being interviewed by NME in April of that year and, when asked about the strangest thing he'd ever put up his nose, answered in typical blasé Keith Richards fashion. "The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father," he said. "I snorted my father. He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow." He wasn't done there either, as he continued, "My dad wouldn't have cared, he didn't give a shit. It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive." Please note that we at 8 Ball headquarters, whatever insinuations you can misinterpret from "8 Ball," do not suggest that you attempt to get high off nasally inhaling the remains of the diseased. Keith Richards, as Robin Williams once intimated, is a rare specimen who could probably grind up a rod of fissionable nuclear material and still come out just fine. (Williams said anthrax, but I think that would be weak tea for the rock god.) Clearly, whatever kills Keith Richards will be the sign of where the impending apocalypse will come from.
#5: Suge Knight Conducts Business With a Lead Pipe
When it comes to the hip-hop world, they just don't do it like Suge Knight did. We rant and rave about Kanye West's egotism and Eminem's controversial lyrics, but these are minor things compared to the many alleged things that the co-founder of CEO of Death Row records has done since he broke into the music industry. Many of the acts attributed to him are questionable, including his supposedly holding Vanilla Ice off a balcony by his ankles or his rumored involvement in the deaths of Tupac Shakur and/or Biggie Smalls. (Ice claims that Knight "only" threatened to throw him off the balcony, while his connection to the shooting deaths has never been confirmed.) One that no one really denies, however, is the time he decided to use a lead pipe in order to conduct his business.
Here's how it goes: before he was the head of Death Row, Knight was the founder of an artist management company through which had DJ Quik and The D.O.C. signed and had met members of N.W.A. When that iconic rap group blew to pieces, Dre and D.O.C. wanted to leave Eazy E's Ruthless Records but were contractually bound. Suge was made aware of the situation of course and decided to get involved personally. The most detailed account comes from N.W.A. manager Jerry Heller, who has recalled that Knight and a group of thugs showed up with lead pipes and baseball bats to Ruthless' offices in order to make their case more convincing. No blows were traded, but Eazy "inexplicably" released Dre, The D.O.C. and Michel'le from their contracts. This allowed Knight and Dre to co-found Death Row, which would reach huge heights in the midst of the East Coast-West Coast war until Knight's violent tendencies made Dre decide he'd had enough. Of course, Death Row then suddenly had no shortage of Dre diss tracks released right after.
#4: Phil Spector Holds Up the Ramones at Gunpoint
No one will ever think of Phil Spector as a normal human being. These days Spector is most quickly associated with the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson, a death for which he was convicted of second-degree murder in 2009. Spector did nothing to help his image in the years that followed the shooting, putting his hair in a bizarre afro-like style and saying things which did not exactly endear him to the public. And the tales which came out in that aftermath, of women claiming that he'd pointed guns at four previous women that he'd dated, didn't help much. But as it turned out, pulling guns on people was not a new act for Spector, who allegedly held the Ramones at gunpoint in the middle of a recording session.
The story goes down like this: according to Dee Dee Ramone, Spector was his usual controlling self in the middle of the process for recording End of the Century. And when I say "usual controlling self," I don't mean that he just had to have his way. Spector was notorious for being exceptionally meticulous about his methods, and for this album it included the likes of forcing Johnny Ramone to play the opening chord for "Rock 'n' Roll High School" hundreds of times. At one point, Spector took Joey Ramone off somewhere else for a three-hour private meeting. When Dee Dee went looking for them he saw Spector show up at the top of a staircase "waving a pistol." Dee Dee says that he told Spector that he was leaving and got the gun aimed at his chest as a result. The band was then sat down in front of Spector's piano, where the producer "made us listen to him play and sing 'Baby, I Love You' until well after 4:30 in the morning." Perhaps then it wasn't surprising that he would end up killing someone at some point or another.
#3: KISS Makes a Marvel Comic Book Out of Their Blood
When it comes to creepy-yet-crass commercialism in rock, there are few who do it quite as prevalently as KISS. The face-painted New Yorkers have done such classy things as selling coffins and cremation urns with the KISS logo emblazoned on them, condoms, in addition to the usual action figures (which are, assumedly, not for kids), board games and more. It's been said that there is little the band won't hawk their name on, and this is true; you can get a KISS Platinum VISA card, or "Kiss Him/Her" branded beauty, shampoo and fragrance products. And none of this takes away from their skill or accolades as a band, don't get me wrong. But there's something just unseemly about trying to straddle the line between perverse and mass marketing. Perhaps the legitimately creepiest marketing gimmick was when they teamed with Marvel comics to get their blood shipped out to kids in the pages of a comic book.
The year was 1977, for the record...back when the Comics Code Authority was in full force and comic books were still largely being marketed to much younger audiences than they are now. And the title, printed as an irregular series, was A Marvel Comics Super Special!. The band's issue was the first of this title and saw each of the band members have their blood drawn by a registered nurse and--just in case anyone wanted to doubt it--witnessed by a notary public. The blood was then poured into vats of red ink that were used to print the comic book, in which the band members were essentially portrayed as superheroes. This is one of those stories that are strange to the point that, even with photographic evidence out there, many don't believe. But it's an example of the adage that sometimes a tale is just crazy enough to be true.
#2: Steven Tyler Basically Adopts His Teenage Girlfriend
Rock stars are no strangers to debauchery; there's a reason it isn't "Chastity, drugs and rock & roll." Jerry Lee Lewis married his cousin, Led Zeppelin's manager used a red snapper as a sex toy, Gary Glitter's vile habits are too much to even mention and let's not even get into the concept of groupies. But this one has to top the list for me. Steven Tyler is by no means a man known for his restraint. The lead singer of Aerosmith has copped to having spent at least $5 million on cocaine over the course of his career, and that's just one drug. The man's also had his rather well-known love of groupies outed as well (not that it was ever secret), but nothing he's done is quite as skeevy as the time he convinced the parents of his teenage girlfriend to make him her guardian so they could live together.
Here's how it goes. In 1975, Tyler was twenty-seven years old and living the rock and roll high life. He was dating Julia Holcomb a sixteen year-old who he met after a concert in Portland, Oregon. Holcomb's own parental figures were not the healthiest; her father had abandoned them when she was barely out of infancy and her mother had been through a fair amount of trauma. Tyler then basically had a vulnerable girl with a family he could and did manipulate into signing over legal custody to him so that he could live with her in Boston. The couple was involved for three years of a drug-induced relationship until a house fire, their age difference and emotional turmoil stemming from an abortion split them apart. Both of them have since spoken of regret, but it doesn't quite wash the stain off of Tyler's soul that he felt bad for this whole thing. Again, it's one of those things where you almost wouldn't believe it without evidence but it is, insanely enough, quite true.
#1: Three Dog Night's Lead Singer Has So Much Sex That His Genitalia Bursts
If this doesn't sound like an urban legend, nothing does. It sounds like Wilt Chamberlain or Gene Simmons' claims to have slept with thousands of women, turned into a precautionary tale that you would look up on Snopes. But as it turns out the story is true, at least if you believe the source. Chuck Negron was the lead singer of Three Dog Night, best known for hits like "Joy to the World" and "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" in the early 1970s. The band may not be the first that you think of when the phrase "classic rock icons" come to mind but at the time they were fairly huge and thus it's no surprise that Negron got his share of game. As it turned out though, getting that much game can earn you quite the painful disqualification.
Among his apparent sexual escapades and rock stardom, Negron also fulfilled the drugs quotient of that famous trifecta with a cocaine and heroin habit that cost him the staggering fee of $2,000 per day. To put that in perspective, it would have taken Negron about six years and ten months to spend as much on drugs as Steven Tyler did on cocaine in about thirty years (sober periods taken out). All those drugs (presumably the cocaine, of course) helped him get it on with for a staggeringly long period of time, enough that his genitalia actually burst. As Negron tells it, he was in the process of spending the night together with Miss Oklahoma one year and "in the middle of the sex, it was like a hot dog splitting and you know, I found myself in the emergency room with my penis in my hand waiting to be stitched up." That sound you hear, ladies, is millions of men crossing their legs as they wince. Of all the crazy stories that happen to be (as well as we can attest) true, this one has to be my favorite.
MUSIC VIDEO A-GO-GO
This week's Music Video A-Go-Go for once has nothing to do with the topic. Eminem released his music video for "Rap God" this week, and I found that I rather enjoyed it. Check it out below:
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.