Being a musician requires at least a few years spent starving to death in a van. Once a rock star reaches a certain level of success, he tends to take advantage of all the things suddenly available to him, particularly the liquor, drugs and ability to destroy inanimate objects. From the point of view of the fans, this is perfectly cool. We expect these guys to live the life of excess that we can't.
"Dude, I would love to do $3,000 worth of drugs and then crash our motorcycles into a trampoline store, but I'm going to IKEA with my girlfriend this afternoon."
The problem is that reaching the hotel destruction stage in a rock career means a lot of people are depending on you. Agents, record companies and concert promoters all have an interest in getting their man to the next concert, or to the next recording session, or out of the children's ball pit and into some pants. And as the latest Apatow movie Get Him to the Greek demonstrates, that's not always going to be easy.
Below, we've listed some of the rock stars who were the most difficult to handle, along with some hypothetical scenarios illustrating why it might suck to be their personal assistant.
Liam and Noel Gallagher are the immensely talented brothers responsible for Oasis, the most successful band that everyone wants to punch in the face. Brash and outspoken, they're known for spouting off about Blur, AIDS and how they hope everyone in Blur gets AIDS--comments which have predictably not gone over well with Blur, AIDS sufferers or anybody else.
Rock stars saying stupid things isn't that remarkable. What really makes the Gallagher boys so difficult to deal with is the ridiculous amount of fistfights they manage to get into between themselves. A typical example: Following a canceled show in Barcelona, during a friendly conversation Liam raised his doubts about the fidelity of Noel's wife and legitimacy of his daughter. (We will assume that Liam did so as delicately as he knew how.) This ended unsurprisingly when Noel headbutted his brother and then punched him in the face.
Who could hate a face like that?
Our favorite story, though, is the one where Liam decided to bring a bunch of people he'd met at the pub back to the recording studio where Noel was working, which understandably irritated Noel somewhat. Noel's role as the reasonable person in this story ends when he reacts to this interruption by attacking Liam with a cricket bat, breaking his foot.
Given that their creative partnership is based on barely contained homicidal rage, getting both Gallagher brothers on the stage at the same time has proven to be a bit like refereeing a slap fight between two chimpanzees--only with less poo throwing (probably) and more shrieking of the UK's favorite C-word (definitely).
A Typical Day If You Were Oasis' Personal Assistant:
You: Liam, don't. Don't throw that poo. Don't throw that poo, Liam. Listen to me, Liam. Do not throw that poo at Noel. He is your brother and you love him.
Noel: You fookin love me, man. Don't you throw that poo at me.
Liam: Fook! -he throws the poo at you instead-
You: AGHR! Ahh! What the hell have you been eating? Is this... is this a battery?
Musicians often put on an exaggerated persona when on stage to make themselves seem more legitimate to the audience. Whether it's bragging about the number of women they lay or the fineness of the Maseratis they drive, this kind of casual exaggeration is perhaps most common in hip-hop artists, but can also be found in nearly every other musical genre. For example, despite repeated claims to the contrary, Elton John is not, nor has he ever been, a rocket man.
DMX on the other hand is not in any way exaggerating when he describes being a bad, bad man in his songs. The man collects criminal charges like they're Pokemon. These include:
Assault, Possession of Illegal Substances, Possession of an Illegal Weapon, Animal Cruelty, Driving Without a License, Possession of Illegal Substances, Possession of False Identification, Possession of Illegal Substances, Impersonating a Federal Agent, Hijacking a Car, Possession of Illegal Substances, and finally, Possession of Illegal Substances.
Every seven seconds, somewhere in America, DMX is committing a crime.
One does not handle DMX so much as one aids and abets DMX. The rapper doesn't need you to get a fresh towel and a bottle of water, he needs you to put your fingerprints on something for him.
Our favorite DMX story relates to a mysterious incident in a New Jersey hotel in which his uncle/manager was accidentally shot in the foot. That's right, the poor guy with the impossible job of making sure stuff like this doesn't happen around DMX, has it happen right in his foot.
A Typical Day If You Were DMX's Personal Assistant:
You: -entering room- Hey dude, I got you the ski masks and 50 yards of rope you asked for, and OH GOD MY FOOT! OH NO! I NEED THAT TO WALK! AND THE BLOOD! YOU ASS! THAT'S SUPPOSED TO STAY INSIDE OF ME!
Keith Moon was the drummer for The Who, and if he didn't invent insane rock star behavior, he did his best to popularize it. What are now common rock star cliches, were daring and original back when Moon was doing them. Trashing hotel rooms, consuming horse tranquilizers, engaging in naked cake fights--Moon did it all, with vigor, passion and creativity. The best Keith Moon story is the time when shortly after leaving a hotel, he sat up in a panic and told the driver to stop and turn around. "I forgot something! We've got to go back!" Upon returning to the hotel, he ran to his room, grabbed the television and threw it out the window and into the pool. Returning to the car, he said with a great sigh of relief, "I nearly forgot."
His signature stunt was ruining toilets, and not in the way Kevin Smith ruins toilets. Moon actually demolished them. He went on the road with an enormous supply of cherry bombs, M-80s and dynamite, exploding toilets wherever he went. Moon was ultimately banned from every Holiday Inn, Sheraton and Hilton in the country for his trouble--though he was heralded Man of The Year by several plumbing supply industry associations.
A Typical Day If You Were Keith Moon's Personal Assistant:
You: Keith? Please come out of there, Keith. Please don't flush that down the toilet, Keith. I could see why you'd think it's funny the first 60 times, but this is too much. Exploding Toilet 61 is going to be no different than any of the rest. We're just gathering redundant data now. There is no logical, scientific or statistical need for this.
Keith Moon: -Opens bathroom door, runs past, cackling-
You: -Rolls for cover-
Ozzy Osbourne, front man for Black Sabbath, and later day marble-mouthed father figure, was the central figure in one of the most legendary rock star stories of all time: He ate the head off a bat. He has since claimed that he thought the bat was fake, it having been thrown on stage during a concert. That actually sounds like a pretty reasonable assumption to make--though the decision to rip even a fake bat apart with his teeth ratchets the reasonableness meter back a bit. One assumes he had his reasons. Were his "reasons" a garbage bag full of drugs? The answer is lost in the seas of time.
Somewhat less gloriously, Ozzy also once drunkenly took a leak on the Alamo, or more precisely, on the memorial across the street. As would be expected, this action pissed off Texans, a car rental company and dead soldiers everywhere. He was actually banned from San Antonio for a decade, and suffered repeated nighttime visits by the ghost of Davy Crockett. To his credit, Ozzy did later apologize profusely for the incident, although the whole thing makes us wonder what other sacred artifacts Ozzy peed on in his day.
A Typical Day If You Were Ozzy Osbourne's Personal Assistant:
You: Wow, this tour of the eyewash solution factory is a great way to take our minds off all the lawsuits we currently have pending against us, right Ozzy? Ozzy? OH JESUS NO.
Iggy Pop has been around forever, and is responsible for that one song you definitely know, and several more you probably don't. As a consequence of being around forever, there's two distinct phases in his career: the drug phase and the post-drug phase.
First the drug phase--and hang on to your butts, because this is pretty nasty. Back in 1969-1970, Iggy and his original band, the Stooges, all hung out together in an apartment in Detroit, and, possibly because no one had invented the Internet yet, they got bored and started doing a lot of heroin. A side note: One of the quirks about taking heroin intravenously is that after shooting up, you end up with a bit of blood inside the hypodermic. Which these guys started squirting out over the walls and ceiling. Imagine what that apartment must have looked like after a few weeks and months, and keep in mind that heroine is not known for being much of a motivator, and you start to realize why getting these guys out to a show might have been somewhere between difficult and your worst nightmare.
A Typical Day If You Were Iggy Pop's Personal Assistant (Drug Phase):
You: No. I am not going back into that apartment. Because f**k you guys, that's why. If you need me, I will be five thousand miles away and on fire, because I quit, and because I will light myself on fire having seen what I just saw. f**k.
Since then, Iggy's cleaned up a bit, which should make shepherding him around a lot easier of a chore. And by all accounts it is, aside from the hilarious contract rider he has for gigs. For those that don't know, a contract rider specifies the required amenities that should be in a performer's dressing room; snacks, beverages, that sort of thing. Iggy's is one of the most extensive in the industry, and although it's almost certainly a joke, has specific requests for:
"Seven dwarves dressed up as those dwarves out of that film about the dwarves. You know the one. Cinderella?"
"Two cans of red bull. Something with testicles in it"
"Cauliflower/Broccoli, cut into individual florets and thrown immediately into the garbage. I f*****g hate that."
A Typical Day If You Were Iggy Pop's Personal Assistant (Post-Drug Phase):
Concert Promoter: ...
You: Look, you know the way these rock stars are. They've got an image to live up to...
Concert Promoter: ...
You: And I don't have to tell you that there is nothing more rock and roll than, uh,... drinking testicles and wasting food in the company of a dwarf.
Back in the 80s Nikki Sixx, the bassist for Motley Crue, was along with basically everyone else in the band, taking enormous quantities of heroin. It was a pretty typical rock star thing to do by that point, and not in itself that remarkable, but for the fact that he actually killed himself doing it. The story goes that after taking far too much heroin one night, Sixx collapsed, and for a couple minutes was technically dead. A paramedic at the scene, reportedly a fan of the band, revived him with two adrenaline shots to the heart. Why everyone who recounts the story highlights the fact that the paramedic was a Motley Crue fan is unknown--perhaps if Sixx played for a lower caliber band on the order of Warrant or Ratt, he wouldn't have survived?
"Wait, aren't you in Warrant?! Get the hell out of my ambulance! No, I will not tell the driver to slow down."
Anyways, Sixx did recover and within minutes, bravely escaped the clutches of medical aid to go do more heroin.
We've concluded that there is no way any man or machine could have kept control of Nikki Sixx at this time in his life. If you put a 1987 era Nikki Sixx on one side of a brick wall and heroin on the other side, you will end up with a Nikki Sixx shaped hole in your brick wall. The wall could be only six-feet long and have a door in it, and he'd still go right through the thing like it was paper.
A Typical Day If You Were Nikki Sixx's Personal Assistant:
You: Hey, Nikki, have you... oh no, my wall! Oh my. I should not have left that heroin lying behind that brick wall. For this I have no one to blame but myself.
Universally hailed as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Eric Clapton spent much of his early career furiously inhaling massive quantities of alcohol and drugs, possibly worried the world's supply was about to run out. Did it interfere with his music? Yes and no. In his own words:
"I'd wander off the stage and somebody would have to try to persuade me to go back on. There seemed to be a postpsychedelia drunkenness that swept over everybody in the entertainment business during the early 70s. To be on stage, you were almost expected to be drunk. I remember doing one entire show lying down on the stage with the microphone stand lying beside me, and nobody batted an eyelid."
That's right: Eric Clapton was just lying down during a rock concert and that was perfectly cool. Encouraged even. The amazing thing is, he probably just killed that set too.
A Typical Day If You Were Eric Clapton's Personal Assistant
Eric Clapton: Look, I'm going to finish drinking this children's pool full of rye whiskey, and you're going to get 80 feet of high strength fishing line, then learn everything you can about the art of puppetry, and meet me at the show in three hours. OK? Break!
You: Man, there has got to be a better use of my Liberal Arts degree.
You don't make astonishing amounts of money without ending up a jerk in some way.
Even our most popular forms of entertainment can treat their employees like absolute trash.
Being at the top of your game can really drag you down.