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Six Musicians With Pasts They Hope You'll Forget

All of us have had jobs we weren't particularly proud of. Unfortunately, if you choose a profession in the public eye (i.e., rock star), any bunch of dickheads with a computer and too much time on their hands (i.e., Cracked) can bring up your humiliation years later. For instance…

#6.
Alice in Chains

While the majority of bands spawned by the grunge music explosion of the early '90s openly expressed their disdain for the superficial glam metal acts that preceded them, Layne Staley and company quietly sat back hoping nobody would remember they were once a bunch of sissified, hair-teasing, mascara-wearing pretty boys.

Became famous because...
Alice in Chains' seminal album, Dirt, is considered one of the best of the grunge era, although lyrics such as,

A stinging pistol, in my mouth, on my tongue,
I want you to scrape me from the walls.

...mean it's unlikely to be your first choice if you're trying to liven up a party. This record has been recognized for its extraordinarily gritty and realistic representation of the suffering caused by heroin addiction... which may have something to do with the fact it was written and recorded while Staley was suffering from an extraordinarily gritty and realistic case of heroin addiction.

Became famous despite...

While the members of Alice in Chains have managed to distance themselves from a few of their more obscure early incarnations, it doesn't exactly take a team of CSI detectives to connect the dots between the band we know and Layne Staley's effeminate '80s cock-rock act, Alice 'N Chainz. This group of (alleged) men sporting bouffant hair and nancy boy make-up was arguably the most embarrassing of the band's many forerunners. Their now forgotten output from the '80s including sensitively titled tracks like "Fat Girls" and lyrically diabolical party anthems such as "Lip Lock Rock":

Lip lock, Lip lock, Lip lock, Lip lock, Lip lock Rock
Lip lock rock, Lip lock rock
Whoa

Suffice to say, song writing generally took a backseat to hair and make-up during this era. Perfectly illustrating the band's non-existent musical credibility is a line from their demo tape's thank you notes that reads "If you are blonde, tan, tasty, and tight, the boyz in the band love you lots"... And no, as much as some fans would like to believe it, we haven't gone off topic and started talking about Poison.

#5.
Alanis Morissette

A few years before introducing herself to the USA with Jagged Little Pill and its disturbing references to publicly deep-throating the fat guy from Full House, she was responsible for two beyond-awful bubblegum-pop albums that teams of men in black suits have since erased from the memories of all those unfortunate enough to have purchased them.

Became famous because...
Alanis appeared on most fans' radar thanks to the testicle-shriveling payback rant "You Oughta Know." Jagged Little Pill sold enough copies to allow her to consider retiring without ever having to set foot in a recording studio again (a career path that the three people who bought her last album, So-Called Chaos, would suggest probably should have been followed).

Became famous despite...

While it's unrealistic to expect material written and recorded by a 16-year-old former child television star to contain profound and articulate ruminations about the human condition, inflicting the following lyrics upon an unsuspecting record-buying public must surely be considered some sort of grossly irresponsible human rights violation.

My name is Alanis, I'm a white chick singer
The drums are a-smokin' and so's the bass
Shake your thing (chika chika chika, cha)
When you sing (chika chika chika, ooh yeah)
Just sixteen (chika chika chika, cha)
No disco queen (chika chika chika, oh yeah)

That's from "Oh Yeah," from the album Alanis released in Canada in 1992. If that wasn't frightening enough on its own, try and imagine it being sung to an electronic backing track that sounds as though it's been pulled from an early '90s Commodore Amiga game. Then imagine it sung by Alanis Morissette doing a bad impersonation of Sean Connery. Now imagine it not so much sung, as rapped. If you're imagining it correctly, you should now have a thin trickle of blood running out of each ear.

A year after inflicting this upon the Canadian public, Alanis returned with Now Is the Time, an album where Alanis proved she could branch out from terrible dance songs and could make terrible ballads as well. Here's a sampling of lyrics from the track "Big Bad Love":

I'm having dreams in the night of you baby
And Sigmund Freud would have thought I was crazy
I wonder why you've become an obsession
All I know is that I need to have your big bad love

The Canadian public decided it wasn't funny any more, and refused to buy the album. Alanis, growing out of the "teen pop sensation" phase, reinvented herself. When Jagged Little Pill became a monster hit in 1995, her label actually got all copies of Alanis and Now Is the Time pulled from circulation. Who would think the music industry could do something so Orwellian?

Oh, wait. Everyone.

#4.
Evanescence

Christian rock ranks right up there with Buddhist action movies in bad religion/entertainment combinations. It's therefore no surprise that, since becoming popular, Evanescence have tried to distance themselves as much as possible from their murky religious origins. Although the band strenuously deny that they have ever considered themselves a Christian rock group. It's no secret that its Christian members were once happy to use Christian radio stations and Christian retail outlets to shamelessly whore out their Christian influenced music. Just don't call them Christian rock, OK?

Became famous because...
Depressed teenagers the world over have managed to find inspiration in the faux-gothic, metal-lite of Evanescence. Admittedly, it inspires most to mope around and be even more miserable than usual, but at least it's making a difference. Lead singer Amy Lee, seems to account for a large part of their popularity, although in the eyes of most horny 15-year-old males, her vocals take a back seat to the fact that she was recently voted one of the hottest women in rock (clearly, some kids have a thing for Lily Munster).

Since rising to prominence in 2003, the band has sold a crapload of albums and picked up several prestigious awards (as well as a couple of Grammys), proving that you don't really need to be happy to be successful.

Became famous despite...

If there was an award for the rock star most likely to have his head flushed in the toilet by other, much cooler rock stars, then it would almost certainly go to former Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody, who said, "The message we as a band want to convey more than anything is simple--God is Love".

While the sentiment behind this statement is commendable, it doesn't exactly conjure up your typical rebellious rock star image of someone who bites the heads off bats or urinates on the audience. However, when you hail from Little Rock, Arkansas and are faced with the challenging task of trying to peddle gothic-influenced pop music to a population more interested in dueling banjos, some kind of marketing strategy is probably necessary.

Evanescence seized the large Christian market to flog copies of their demo CD, Origin. While not exactly in the Stryper league of hurling bibles into the crowd, they were more than happy to run with the Christian angle, as long as it garnered them an instant fan following. Of course, as soon as it became clear they could sell records the normal way, they dropped the Christian thing quicker than a flaming bag of dog poo.

#3.
Tori Amos

Tori Amos tends to appeal to a breed of music fan that can most accurately be described as "devoted" (although "infatuated," "rabid" and "monomaniacal lunatics" are other terms that spring to mind). Her record company could scrape the stinking filth from the bottom of her trash can, slap a picture of Tori on the front, and it would still manage to sell by the truckload (the unkind would suggest they did this in 2005 and called it The Beekeeper).

Unfortunately for Tori, her legion of obsessed stalkers were not so fanatical about her debut as lead singer of a tragic '80s synth-pop band.

Became famous because...
Although it's generally not a good idea to suggest that several Tori Amos songs sound like they could have been pulled straight from a '80s Kate Bush record (the mere suggestion of which is likely to result in legions of frenzied Tori fans demanding our testicles), she has managed to find a similar niche market for spacey, oddball, somewhat bizarre music, marketed toward spacey, oddball, somewhat bizarre people. The fact that a considerable percentage of her songs fall clearly on the wrong side of the line between mildly eccentric and completely batshit insane ("The Power Of Orange Knickers", anyone?) only seems to add to her popularity.

Became famous despite...

If there was ever a recording that needed to be hidden in a sealed, underground vault to prevent future generations learning of its existence, the self-titled, first, last and only album by Y Kant Tori Read is it. This regrettable error of judgment also featured drummer Matt Sorum (the only member of Guns N' Roses who could actually make a pop band seem less cool) and managed sales figures that even the most complimentary of observers would struggle to describe as abysmal.

We all know the '80s was a tragic era for fashion, but there are surely few more regrettable jacket photos than the Pirates of the Caribbean meets dominatrix meets five-dollar whore shot of Tori that graces the cover of this recording. Clearly the majority of the music-buying public had a similar opinion, treating the album with such staggering indifference that Atlantic Records chose to abandon all promotion for the band about three seconds after it was released.

Unfortunately, Tori had just been signed to a massive six album deal (by an executive we suspect went on to a career washing car windows at intersections), leaving her record company stuck with the unenviable task of reinventing her as a serious artist (or, at the very least, an artist that didn't bear a frightening resemblance to a medieval hooker).

#2.
Pantera

Pantera can rightly claim to be the loudest, heaviest, most ball-breakingly extreme band to ever reach number one on the Billboard Top 100. Tracks like "Fucking Hostile," "Slaughtered," "Death Rattle" and "Sandblasted Skin" are ones you're not likely to hear covered at weddings, unless the wedding is awesome.

Quietly airbrushed from their biography however, is the fact that this hardcore band could once have been mistaken for the embarrassingly effeminate offspring of Spinal Tap and Cinderella, releasing several shameful glam metal albums that would make even Britny Fox cringe.

Became famous because...
In the early '90s the term "heavy metal" was pretty much applied to any group sporting long hair and tight pants, despite the fact that most looked and sounded about as threatening as Hilary Duff. Pantera however, deserved the label. Fronted by a shaven-headed redneck with a guttural bellow that could tear you a new asshole, and backed up by some of the largest, hairiest Texan metalheads ever to learn how not to play an instrument, these self-proclaimed Cowboys From Hell began a new wave of groove metal that financed the BMW's of many a hearing specialist.

The banned artwork that graced the cover of Far Beyond Driven (featuring a heavy-duty drill bit protruding from a location most people would prefer not to be drilled) and the charming fist-in-the-face cover of Vulgar Display of Power were appropriate metaphors for the ear-splitting sensation of hearing Pantera for the first time.

Became famous despite...

It's hard to choose the most shameful aspect of the complete travesty that was 1980's Pantera. Was it the teased hairdos and leopard skin spandex, the emasculating combination of which made it look as though Warrant could kick their ass? Was it the fact that most of their lyrics from this era make Alanis Morissette's early offerings look like the lost works of T.S. Eliot? Or was it this:

Their tracks often had ridiculous, innuendo titles that would even make Prince roll his eyes (see "Ride My Rocket," "Come-On Eyes" and "Nothin' On But The Radio"). For a taste of the shameful horror they were inflicting upon audiences during this era, check out this pansified verse from 1985's "Forever Tonight":

I wanna feel you in my arms
I wanna love you til the emptiness is gone
Take my hand
Tonite could be the nite
Understand my heart is cryin'
Oooooooooh, forever tonite

Yeah, we're talking Michael Bolton territory here.

While the above list of indiscretions is unquestionably disturbing, it's frightening to think that none of these are dire enough to qualify as the worst of their career. Yes, despite some humiliating fashion choices, despite once having a lead singer with the boy band name of Donnie Hart, even despite the fact that umpteenth vocalist Phil Anselmo at one point appeared to steal Cyndi Lauper's hairdo, the band somehow managed to concoct something even more embarrassing.

Our vote for the ultimate lowlight of Pantera's career is the following excerpt from 1985's "Hot and Heavy":

Take a look at my ice cream cone baby
Go ahead, take a lick
Can't wait to take you home
Beat you with my stick

Yeah.

#1.
Dr. Dre

Although anyone forced to endure Ice Cube's recent descent into Are We There Yet? comedy hell would have difficulty believing it, there were once few artists more unbelievably bad-ass than the members of '80s gangsta rap group, NWA. Delightfully upbeat tunes such as "Fuck Tha Police," "Findum, Fuckum & Flee" and "I'd Rather Fuck You" (does anyone see a pattern emerging here) saw Dr. Dre and his cohorts banned by a string of record stores and radio stations across America. Even the government of Rwanda, which seems to have no problem with its citizens being exposed to trivialities such as mass genocide and civil war, found these guys so hardcore it decided to put them on its "banned" list.

There was however, a rather embarrassing flip side to their seemingly unmatched notoriety.

Became famous because...
Prior to 1988, hip-hop artists were generally more concerned with cool sneakers and ridiculously over-sized ghetto blasters, than popping a cap in muthafuckin' gangstas and hos. Once NWA appeared on the scene however, funky sounding rap songs like "My Adidas" and "I Can't Live Without My Radio" gave way to considerably less jovial titles, such as "One Less Bitch" and "To Kill a Hooker".

At the forefront of this change was producer and occasional performer Dr. Dre, who was rapidly becoming one of music's all-time ultimate badasses. For a perfect example of his badassiness (if such a word exists), you need look no further than the time FOX TV's rap music show Pump It Up, dissed his band. Dr. Dre decided that, rather than writing a scathing lyric or sternly worded letter to the station, the best response was to slam the host face-first into a wall... repeatedly. This was promptly followed up by a boot in the ribs, with a few punches to the back of the head thrown in for good measure. If you look at Cracked tomorrow and find this article has mysteriously vanished from the site, we think you'll have a fair idea why.

Became famous despite...

QUESTION: Which of the following artists was once regularly seen prancing around in an exceptionally fruity, white, body-length, sequined suit jacket, while wearing a decidedly unmanly application of eyeliner and lipstick.

A) Gay icon, Freddie Mercury
B) Gay icon, Elton John
C) Gay icon, Liberace
D) Hardcore gangsta rapper, Dr Dre

ANSWER: Although, in the privacy of their own bedrooms, the first three performers on this list have almost certainly been guilty of the aforementioned crime against fashion, the only artist who felt it appropriate to commit this indiscretion in public is the not-that-hardcore-after-all Dr. Dre.

While he now looks like he could break your neck without batting an eyelid, a few years before NWA made it big, Dre was part of an electro-hop act called World Class Wreckin' Cru, with a reputation that was decidedly more 'N Sync than NWA.

As well as wearing the above heinous costume, it also appears as though he took the "Doctor" part of his name a little too seriously, flouncing around with a stethoscope for that additional camp touch.

We hate to think how many tragically misdiagnosed patients it took for the world to realize it was just a costume. We also hate to think of how many wannabe gangstas grew up wanting to be like Dre, not realizing that was also just a costume, and that his previous one was not quite masculine enough for a spot in The Village People.

For something from the more recent past that a famous person hopes you'll forget, check out Mitt Romney's supremely awkward attempt to interact with black people on the Friday Nooner. Or if you're just in the mood for more ridiculous musicians, check out The 25 Worst Rapper Names of All Time.

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