The 5 Most Embarrassing Past Lives of Famous Musicians

#2. David Bowie Released an Insane Children's Song

Frank Micelotta/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The Artist You Know

Science will never catalog all of the freaky shit David Bowie was into in the 1970s. There's a popular rumor that Bowie's wife once walked in on him having sex with Mick Jagger. He was friends with Iggy Pop when Iggy Pop was still rolling around in shards of glass and regularly exposing his XXXL schlong onstage. During the pair's famous "Berlin years," Bowie got so whacked out on heroin that he started to believe that German electronic music was a worthwhile career direction.

What we're saying is, even when Bowie's trying to be somewhat family-friendly, like in the 1980s fantasy flick Labyrinth, he comes off even more like the kind of guy you don't want the little ones to be around. And to top it all off, he's got two different-colored eyes.

K-Tel
Homochromia is for failures.

The Artist You Don't Know

In 1967, Bowie put out a single so batfuck crazy that one must wonder how there was any acid left for anyone else that summer. Behold "The Laughing Gnome":

Variously classified as a children's tune, a novelty song, and an unethical torture device, "The Laughing Gnome" is a musical conversation with the titular character and his brother, who speak mostly in gnome-based puns ("Do you have a home?" asks Bowie; "No, we're gnome-ads!" comes the reply) and in a sped-up, gibbering voice that makes Alvin and the Chipmunks sound like Barry White and Luther Vandross.

Even Bowie's biographer Paul Trynka would have a tough time casting any kind of positive light on the tune, but not for lack of trying. In the official biography, Starman, he states, "As long as one is happy to abandon all notions of taste, the song is brilliantly crafted," which is kind of like telling someone they're pretty as long as they're in the dark. He then kicked the audacity up a notch by adding that, when it comes to "pseudopsychedelic cockney music-hall children's songs, it reigns supreme."

Michael Regan/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Clearly this man has never watched Mary Poppins on acid.

Make no mistake, this is because "The Laughing Gnome" is, mercifully, the only pseudopsychedelic cockney music-hall children's song.

There's a reason for that.

#1. Billy Joel Was in a Drum- and Organ-Based Psychedelic Metal Band

The Artist You Know

The fun thing about Billy Joel, aside from all of the amazing songs he's written, is that his sometimes raucous life offstage is such a departure from the mellow, adult-oriented rock sound that made him famous. The angriest Billy Joel has ever been on record was that one time when he protested the cola wars by writing the shittiest song of his career.

Aside from that, a Billy Joel tune is the kind of song you can take home to mother. See, Mom, this song is about an uptown girl! He can't afford to buy her pearls!

The Artist You Don't Know

Epic Records

Yep, the Ron Jeremy lookalike draped in full gladiator regalia (complete with optional modesty tights) is Billy Joel. The man on the left is, you know, the other half of the band Attila. If you've never heard of them, congratulations, you're a part of the 99 percent all over again.

They were a drum- and organ-based heavy metal band whose sound could best be described as "Holy shit, dude, the only organs heavy metal needs are the sex kind." Their only record was released in 1969.

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

If Ian Anderson has taught us anything, it's that unconventional instruments only work with a ridiculously large codpiece.

All Music Guide calls it "the worst album released in the history of rock and roll," and Billy was just as generous by describing it as "psychedelic bullshit." The critical and commercial response to the album was so astoundingly negative that it prompted a young-but-already-short-on-quality-decision-making-skills Billy Joel to guzzle a bottle of furniture polish in a half-hearted attempt to commit suicide.

Obviously, the attempt was unsuccessful. Billy Joel eventually nursed himself back to health by breaking up his awful band, running off with the drummer's wife (fun fact: He wrote "Just the Way You Are" and "She's Always a Woman" about her!), and getting super-duper rich and famous.

Thanks to the Internet, though, that terrible album will always be with us:

You're welcome.



Mike Floorwalker can be stalked on his blog or just followed around on Twitter.



For more rock stars who used to be way, way different, check out 5 Artistic Geniuses Who Only Became Great After Selling Out and 6 Mind-Blowing Early Music Careers of Famous Musicians.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 3 Comic Book Moments That Prove Batman is Bad at Hiring.

And stop by LinkSTORM to discover which columnist used to be Courtney Love.

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