In memory of Jim Morrison: 8 shocking rock ‘n’ roll moments

Today, March 1st 2019, marks an important anniversary in rock and roll. It might not be the one you think.

No, it’s not the day The Beatles landed in America, sending throngs of Beatle maniacs into a screaming frenzy upon their arrival. It’s not the date Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon, an album that would stay in the album charts for 17 years. It is, in fact, 50 years to the day that The Doors frontman Jim Morrison allegedly exposed himself to a stunned Florida crowd, all the way back in 1969.

Granted, this may not seem like the most shocking thing by today’s standards, in which skin, sex and nudity are at times a key part of an artist’s performance or identity. During the hazy days of the late 60s, however, this alleged lewd act was a national story in both music and mainstream press. Morrison himself was arrested over the incident, which he denied having taken place. The question of did he/didn’t he continued well after the untimely death of the singer in 1971 – but Morrison was eventually pardoned nearly four decades later by Florida Governor Charlie Crist. Guilty or not, this act of supposed rebellion is one that will go down in history as one of the more memorable moments in rock history. In the years that followed, there have been countless moments on stages throughout the globe that have shocked the audience and – indeed the world.

8 – The Sex Pistols swear on live TV, 1976

Another example of a moment that may be considered tame by today’s standards, but when members of legendary punk band The Sex Pistols turned the airwaves blue back in 1976, it caused mass outrage and made the group into public enemy number one.

As a last-minute replacement for Freddie Mercury, forced to cancel due to toothache, the punks appeared on tea-time tell programme Today. Continuously needled by presenter Bill Grundy, the group referred to the host as a “dirty old sod” before dropping a tirade of obscenities, including the F bomb. The show quickly went off air, and the Sex Pistols cemented themselves in musical infamy.

7 – Billie Joe Armstrong loses his cool , 2012

Green Day frontman Billie Joe smashed his guitar into smithereens during the iHeart Radio Music Festival during a performance of the band’s biggest hit “Basket Case”.

The singer, triggered by a production cue, cut the song short, declaring “I’ve been around since f–king 1988, and you’re gonna give me one f—ing minute? You’ve got to be kidding me! I’m not f—ing Justin Bieber, you motherf—ers.” Before destroying his guitar and throwing his microphone into the crowd. The singer entered drug rehabilitation in the days following the incident.

6 – Nirvana play the wrong song, 1991

At the height of their fame, Nirvana were arguably the biggest band in the world. But an appearance on The Jonathon Ross’ show proved that they weren’t going to be selling out and playing nice as part of their newfound fame.

Scheduled to play their chart-topping tune Lithium, the grunge band instead launched into their much punkier, much less famous song Territorial P-ssings before destroying their equipment and the stage. A shocked Ross jokingly reminded the audience at home Nirvana were available for “children’s birthday parties and bar mitzvahs.”

5 – Liam Gallagher Throws a Plum, 2009

Okay, so this one didn’t happen in front of the cameras or an audience, but the backlash from this rather bizarre incident is one that left the music world reeling, and worthy of a mention.

7026754969_107d235b51_o

The Gallagher brothers in happier times (Credit: Paula Torres Rey)

Minutes before heading onstage to play in front of an eagerly awaiting crowd, rock ‘n’ roll’s most notorious brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher were involved in a heated argument that would lead to the end of one of the world’s biggest bands. When tensions continued to rise, Liam reportedly swung a guitar at brother Noel before throwing a plum in his direction. Arguably the straw that broke the camel’s back, that night’s performance was cancelled, and Oasis were no more.

4 – Ozzy Osbourne bites a bat’s head off, 1982

No stranger to controversy, former Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne was onstage in Des Moines, Iowa when a bat emerged at his feet, flung from the crowd.

Thinking the bat to be made of plastic, Osbourne picked the animal up…. and bit the creature’s head off. Fans in attendance looked on in horror as the rocker finished his set, before being whisked to a nearby hospital room for rabies shots. The incident led to a ban of performances containing animals in the arena, and is still one of the most talked-about controversies in rock history today.

3 – James Hetfield goes up in flames, 1992

In 1992, two of the biggest bands in the world were playing a double headline show in Montreal – Guns ‘n’ Roses and Metallica. However, when Metallica frontman James Hetfield accidentally engulfed himself in flames, it triggered a series of very unfortunate events.

During ballad “Fade to Black”, Hetfield misjudged his step and stood directly in the way of a 12-foot flame as it burst into the air – a part of the band’s impressive pyrotechnic show. The fire melted the strings on Hetfield’s guitar, the skin on his right arm, and incinerated his eyebrows and parts of his hair. The group were forced to cut their set short to a sea of boos. Guns n Roses were set to take the stage and save the day, when….

2 – Axl Rose triggers a riot, 1992

Guns ‘n’ Roses took to the stage after Metallica cut their set short, and seemed ready to rescue the show. However, the rock megastars ended up leaving early themselves.

Infamously late Axl Rose took to the stage two hours after Hetfield was rushed to hospital. Complaining of sound issues and a sore throat, Rose walked off nine songs into the set, telling fans this would be the group’s “last show for a long time.” Furious fans then took to the streets of Montreal: overturning cars, smashing windows, looting local stores, and setting fires. Altogether, the riot caused more than $500,000 worth of damage to the city – which would be closer to $1 million in today’s money.

1 – Dimebag Darrell’s onstage assassination, 2004

By far the most shocking and tragic moment on this list, and perhaps in musical history is the Damageplan shooting in Columbus, Ohio that left four dead and seven injured.

Just two songs into their set, gunman Nathan Gale took to the stage of metal band Damageplan, featuring legendary brothers Darrell and Vinny Abbott of Pantera. Gale first shot and killed guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell, then fired upon the other band members and tour crew. The incident landed on the anniversary of Beatles legend John Lennon’s death, another musician gunned down by a supposed fan.

To this day the incident remains the largest mass killing in Columbus history, and led to security measures increasing at shows around the world, many of which are still in effect. Darrell was honoured in 2007 with a space on the Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame.

For more try these EN4 News articles about problematic musicians.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: