55 Crazy Stories About Famous Musicians
Musicians have some sensational stories, most of which involve drugs. But what most people don't know is that musicians also have a few stories that have nothing to do with drugs whatsoever, and here are a few of our favorites.
Okay, we lied; one or two of these might be about drugs.
Elvis gave his mother a Cadillac, though she couldn't drive. He also gave one to a backup singer. And to his dentist and his hairstylist. When he saw a bank teller admiring his Cadillac, he wrote her a check so she could buy one for herself.
2. Frank Sinatra
When Capitol Records put out the Frank Sinatra record Come Swing With Me, Sinatra himself, on a label he separately founded, but out a competing Sinatra record he called Swing Along with Me.
3. Neil Young
Young directed and starred in a movie called Human Highway. At least he says it's a movie. None of the actors appear to understand the lines they're reciting, and it all ends with a nuclear apocalypse and dancing.
4. David Bowie
Bowie's distinctive eyes, with one pupil permanently enlarged, came from a childhood fight. He tricked a friend into abandoning a date, letting Bowie sweep in instead, and the friend later punched him into the emergency room.
5. Mariah Carey
When she gave birth to twins, Mariah Carey had the hospital play a recording of her performing "Fantasy." Performing it live so that she'd hear a crowd cheering for her.
7. George Watsky
Rapper George Watsky thought it might be fun to jump down 35 feet to stage dive onto a crowd of fans. These fans smartly moved out of the way, except for two of them, who wound up with an injured back and a broken arm.
8. The Flaming Lips
In 1997, The Flaming Lips recorded a four-disc album. The album's eight tracks weren't divided among the discs, two tracks each. Instead, each song's audio channels were divided among the discs, so you had to play all four discs simultaneously, on four separate CD players, to hear the music.
9. Michael Bolton
Michael Bolton's name is so synonymous with soft rock that he's been a punch line for decades. Would you believe then that, before he made it big, he was in an '80s hair metal band?
10. Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash worked as a codebreaker in the military in the '50s. By decoding Soviet cables, he was the first American to learn that Stalin had died.
Does Bono wear sunglasses all the time because he's a complete tool? No -- he does it because he has glaucoma.
Buckethead recorded 13 albums in 2007. As though that weren't enough, he insisted on burning each copy personally and hand-drawing art for each disc. 12,987 CDs, 12,987 drawings.
13. The Bee Gees
You might think Hanson were a bunch of kids when they debuted in 1997. But that was actually several years into their career. They had been writing their own songs and recording since 1992 (when Zac was only seven).
15. Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye got a 15-year-old pregnant. No, this wasn't some young fan of his. This was his wife's niece.
Slash from Guns N' Roses says he wasn't trying to create a wacky persona when he donned his famous hat and hair. He chose those to hide his face, due to stage fright, out of embarrassment.
17. Bob Dylan
Dylan filmed a movie called Renaldo And Clara, about a fictional musician playing in Dylan's band. This musician is played by Dylan, which would be confusing enough, but Dylan also plays the part of Bob Dylan himself in the same movie.
In 2008, Ashanti's label published a mock news story about her inspiring a murderer, who left the message "BLACK CHILDREN WILL DIE" on walls in blood. The promo got a little out of hand.
Steve Perry returned to Journey in 1996, but there was one problem: He'd injured his hip and needed surgery. So the band found a replacement and kept him even after Perry got the operation.
Before we figured out how to record audio on wax cylinders, composers still sold music -- they sold sheet music. The art's not quite dead. Beck released an album as sheet music in 2012, never actually recording the songs himself.
22. The Goo Goo Dolls
The Goo Goo Dolls are a pretty tame alternative rock band (their biggest hit uses a lot of mandolin). Yet they were originally a punk band called The Sex Maggots.
23. Axl Rose
After two fans were crushed to death at a concert, Axl Rose continued to spark riots. One time, he jumped into the crowd to confiscate a camera, with disastrous results. Another time, he refused to come out on stage, and disgruntled fans set the city block on fire.
24. Michael Jackson
Everyone eventually learned Michael Jackson had a skin condition, but the first clue came before his face changed. That trademark glove of his wasn't just an affectation -- he wore it to cover the vitiligo patches on his hand.
25. Rick James
James was once in a Canadian garage band whose lineup also included Neil Young. What was he doing in Canada? Oh, just dodging the Vietnam draft, which eventually landed him a year in prison.
26. ZZ Top
For their 1976 Worldwide Texas Tour, the band thought it was a good idea to bring some live animals onstage. The buffalo got antsy and smashed open the rattlesnake tanks. Snakes swarmed the performance area, and the band fled.
27. Bonnie Tyler
In the summer of 2006, Madonna ordered venues in Phoenix and Los Angeles to switch off air conditioning at her concerts. It was to protect her voice, she claimed (others contend that it was just because she doesn't like air conditioning).
29. Green Day
Woodstock '94 was known as "Mudstock." Not only did rain turn the whole festival area into a mud pit, but Green Day encouraged the audience to start a mud fight, then joined in themselves.
30. The Doors
The Doors actually tried soldiering on after Jim Morrison's death. Two albums failed, so they tried putting some of Morrison's poems to music and used stock footage of the late singer in the music video.
31. Whitney Houston
The greatest honor Whitney Houston ever received was surely when Saddam Hussein chose "I Will Always Love You" as his campaign song. The unauthorized Houston endorsement must have been truly effective, as a reported 100 percent of the population voted that year, all for Saddam.
Before he was with the band, Bon Scott sang bubblegum pop. His group was called The Valentines and wore matching sweaters.
33. Fiona Apple
In 1999, Apple released an album entitled When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing 'fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You'll Know That You're Right.
34. The Who
35. System of a Down
What's the absolute most rockin' origin story a band's lead singer could have? Definitely, it was the one belonging to System of a Down's Serj Tankian: He owned an accounting software company.
36. Jimi Hendrix
Two mobsters kidnapped Hendrix for a weekend in 1969. They released him when a rival mobster phoned them and threatened them into abandoning the plan.
37. Jack White
In 2012, Jack White recorded a song called "Freedom at 21." He released it by tying 1,000 discs to 1,000 helium balloons and letting them float away.
38. Kings of Leon
During one 2010 concert, a swarm of pigeons kept shitting on the band members. The group kept playing anyway and only gave up and ran offstage after a bird landed one turd directly in Jared Followill's mouth.
When Bret Michaels wasn't playing for Poison or appearing in Rock Of Love, he directed and starred in a thriller called A Letter From Death Row. He filmed it in an actual prison, with prisoners as extras, and got Martin and Charlie Sheen to costar.
40. Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez does personal appearances if the price is right. In 2013, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov had her over to sing him "Happy Birthday."
41. Chuck Berry
42. Barry Manilow
In 1971, Barry Manilow wrote the State Farm jingle, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." It was the best thing he ever did.
43. Daft Punk
In 2006, Daft Punk made an art-house film called Electroma. The idea started out as a music video, but it clearly isn't one, as it has no music at all. It also has no dialogue.
44. Soulja Boy
What could be more ridiculous than Soulja Boy's "Crank That"? How about another song on that album called "Report Card" about coming home from school with bad grades? A startling reminder that the guy was only 17 when "Crank That" was popular.
45. Justin Bieber
In 2011, a prison inmate ordered the kidnapping of Justin Bieber. The kidnapper carried hedge clippers as a castration tool (it's unclear whether he planned to castrate Bieber or other victims).
46. Gene Simmons
Before KISS, Simmons taught elementary school in New York. This should be the most unexpected part of his career, except for what came next: He was personal assistant to the editor of Vogue.
47. Norman Greenbaum
You definitely know Greenbaum's song "Spirit In The Sky." You likely don't know his later recordings, such as "Canned Ham" and "Chocolate Milk." The most charitable thing we can say about them is that they were probably drug metaphors.
48. Bruce Springsteen
49. Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton founded Sandollar Productions. They produced Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, as well as the Father of the Bride movies.
50. Snoop Dogg
Snoop got licensed as a football coach. He wanted to coach his son's team, and he ended up running a whole charity youth league.
51. Dave Grohl
When a miner got trapped following an Australian earthquake and requested Foo Fighters music to keep him company, Dave Grohl did him one better. He wrote a song about the fan -- a legit song, included on the band's album and everything.
52. Carl Douglas
Douglas is best known for the song "Kung Fu Fighting." He is not at all known for his next release, a song about a witch-finder in the 1600s burning witches.
53. The Beatles
The Beatles planned to make a sixth movie, and this one was going to be a little different. It was set in an alternate version of Britain where women occupy all positions of power, so the lads dress in drag to assassinate the prime minister.
54. The Rolling Stones
Contractually obligated to record an additional single, but not wanting to, The Stones recorded "Schoolboy Blues," a song they knew no radio station would ever play. The song is sometimes known as "Cocksucker Blues" due to its lyrics, which you can read here.
55. Kanye West
Top image: Jason Persse