The thing about rockstars is that they are the kind of people who are expected to do awesome things to draw attention to themselves. They are the kind of people who routinely say, do and dance things that would have any mere mortal laughed into an embarrassment coma. And yet, time after time, they pull it off. All the more satisfying then, when it backfires stupendously…
P!nk Brings Down Barriers
You probably know pink as the as the sassy pop diva who sings mostly about punching things or regretting punching something. She also sometimes has pink hair, because we ran out of imaginative gimmicks in the early nineties apparently.
She’s also known for bringing a rock flavour to pop music, so her stage shows are habitually a little more extreme than her peers. So when Pink says she wants to fly over her audience like a faux-punk Peter Pan, you accept it, because thats how Pink rolls.
Or, in the case of a 2010 concert in Nürnberg, Germany that’s how Pink barrel rolls. Barrel rolls straight into a steel barrier.
It seems that one of her harness crew attaching the wires that supported Pink (she wasn’t really flying, I probably should have mentioned that) hadn’t been on her game that day, and the unsecured harness sent Pink rocketing off into the crowd barrier. Pink hit the ground and, dealing with the situation like a true pro, cursed like a sailor until she was ready to get back on the stage.
Despite the cringe-inducing video, Pink wasn’t seriously hurt, later tweeting; “I made that barrier my bitch!” which just goes to prove the old adage; “When you fall off the horse, you call that horse a bitch.”
Krist Novoselic Lets the Bass Drop
Nirvana bass player Noveoselic probably had the easiest gig in rock history. Just show up, let Grohl take care of the drums and Kobain take care of the crazy, then relax and have a good time. But on a particularly troubled gig at the 1992 MTV music video awards, Krist got bored and decided to entertain the audience by slinging his bass thirty feet into the air. This was all well and good until said bass succumbed to Newton’s Lesser Known Law: If you show off by throwing your bass guitar, it will probably land in your face. And land in his face it did.
In Krist’s later account of the incident, not only does he attribute the missed catch to not being able to find a cold beer before the concert (a simultaneously bizarre and awesome excuse) but he also claims he only feigned unconsciousness. This makes sense; if we’d just made a fool of ourselves in front of millions of people, we’d probably fake unconsciousness too. In fact, we’d probably fake our own deaths and spend the rest of our lives wearing big, dark glasses.
The story ends on a happy note, however, with no real damage done and Krist being offered the most rockstar of all medicines– a chilled glass of champagne– by none other than legendary guitarist/rocket scientist Brian May. Now that’s a Mentos Fresh ending!
Chris Holmes Meats His Audience
W.A.S.P were a metal band when metal was more about hair and spectacle rather than hair and substance. Their stage shows were notorious for blatant gimmickry, such as chaining up semi-nude models to torture racks and drinking blood. Their signature gimmick, however, was to throw meat into the audience, because… because.
You can probably guess where this is going. There’s something about a rock concert that taps into the monkey part of the brain, and it’s common knowledge these days that if you start throwing things, you should be prepared for everybody else to start throwing things too. W.A.S.P gigs were certainly no exception, and soon audience members started showing up with their own meat to throw (don’t worry that’s not a euphemism).
Unfortunately there’s always one nut-job willing to take things too far, and while touring in Helsinki, as W.A.S.P hammered in to their signature meat-throwing tune, some joker in the audience decided to chuck an entire frozen rump roast. Lead guitarist Chris Holmes caught it full in the face, and was knocked instantly unconscious.
The moral of the story? Don’t throw meat. That’s stupid.
Prince Sees the Light
What? Prince? How could a guy who routinely makes love to the floor worry about embarrassing himself? Well, lets set the scene. It’s 1983, and James Brown is doing what he does best (being James Brown) when who does he call on to the stage? None other than yet-to-go-strange Michael Jackson. After blowing away the crowd with one surprise guest, and at Michael Jackson’s insistence, James calls the lesser known Prince onto the stage. If there’s one thing Prince isn’t, it’s intimidated, by anything, so not only does he saunter onto the stage in his own sweet time, riding some kind of yeti beast, he then proceeds to blow the audience away; riffing out an impromptu guitar solo like it’s no big thing, melting faces like he keeps the Ark of the Covenant in his pants, and owning the stage like the patron saint of male strippers.
Par for the course so far. Prince plays guitar, gets a little naked, awesomeness abounds. The only let down to an otherwise textbook Über-strut is the exit, in which the shirtless one swings on a heavy steel stage fixture that, unfortunately, isn’t bolted to the ground. The light fixture falls into the audience, sending Prince sprawling and, miraculously, killing no one. The true embarrassment comes when James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, wanders over to Prince, carrying his discarded jacket like a beleaguered grandparent charged with a hyperactive toddler.
Keith Moon Goes Out with a Bang
Keith Moon has become a sort of shorthand phrase for drug-fuelled anarchy, and with good reason– The Who practically invented on-stage shenanigans, and Keith was the most destructive of all; the renowned scourge of hotel rooms and exploder of toilets. However, there is a thin line between awesome rock n’ roll anarchy, and the regular, every-day, terrifying anarchy, and that line is easily crossed when you put a drug-addled drummer in charge of your on-stage explosives.
When appearing on the “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in 1967, Moon rigged an explosive device to go off in his drum kit. It was something he’d done before, but on this occasion–perhaps because of the television exposure–or perhaps because he was told to do so by the purple dreaming gods, Keith used up to ten times the usual amount of gunpowder in the device.
The resulting explosion flattened lead singer Roger Daltry, and allegedly permanently deafened guitarist Pete Townsend in one ear. Moon himself did not escape unscathed, with his arm being sliced by a flying cymbal. Video evidence seems to suggest that he either didn’t notice or didn’t care.
Steve Stevenson used to be in a band and he fell off the stage once. Where’s his parade?
Follow Steve on Twitter! Then read his interview with Jeremy Bulloch: The Man, The Mandalorian for another legend doomed by his own kickass prop. And while we’re mixing awesomeness with embarrassment, why not learn why Batman’s Dumbest Bat-Moments Come from His Best Qualities?