Following on from the post about controversial moments in music history of the last 20 years, here are that period’s ten most controversial offstage moments, plus five equally outrageous ones from before 1990. There’s even a runner-up. . . what can I say, musicians and controversy go hand in hand.
Radiohead release “In Rainbows” (2007)
One of the world’s biggest and most revered bands, Radiohead sent shockwaves through the music industry when they released their seventh album online, for whatever price the purchaser wished to pay. This unconventional sales strategy did the band no harm, with the album reaching #1 in the US, UK, Canada, France and Ireland.
Britney Spears gives us a piece of her (2007)
Prompted by a substance problem, the passing of her aunt and her divorce from baby daddy Kevin Federline, Spears embarked on a public cycle of destruction which included shaving her own head, attacking a paparazzi photographer with an umbrella and several stints getting treatment. 2008 saw the massive commercial success of her “Circus” album and, fortunately, a return to stability.
Phil Spector’s murder charge (2003 – 2009)
On 3 February 2003, legendary music producer and Wall of Sound inventor Phil Spector was arrested on suspicion of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in her Hollywood home. Spector was subsequently found guilty of second-degree, with his court appearances as infamous for his assortment of bizarre wigs as for their shocking subject matter.
George Michael’s bathroom incident (2003)
Former Wham! teen idol and now successful solo artist Michael was arrested by an undercover police officer for “engaging in a lewd act” in a Los Angeles public bathroom. Michael, who following the incident confirmed long-held public speculation that he wasn’t straight, later stated that he openly met men with the blessing of his partner, Kenny Goss. In 2006, he was again accused of publicly engaging in nonpublic acts.
Gary Glitter’s charges (1997 — 2009)
Michael Jackson’s allegations (1993, 2003)
Andrew WK admits to being a marketing creation (2009)
Famous for his image as a party-hard nice guy, WK announced onstage that the truth was far more complex: not only was that image dreamed up by a committee including his father and several associates, but he was in fact the second person to play the role, the first presumably having cruised some time after WK’s 2001 debut “I Get Wet” .
Marilyn Manson — selected moments (late 1990s — early 2000s)
The man formerly known as Brian Warner has been embroiled in so much offstage controversy that it’s hard to choose just one incident. Allegations that his music was somehow responsible for Columbine? Or that he purchased Nazi memorabilia and masks made of human skin? Appearing on the cover of “Mechanical Animals”? How about his ongoing – and untrue – claims to journalists that he had had ribs removed in order to be able to please himself? See, I told you it was impossible to choose.
Judas Priest accused of inciting (1990)
British heavy-metal mainstays Judas Priest were the subject of civil action by the parents of James Vance and Raymond Belknap, who accused the band’s song “Better By You, Better Than Me” of containing the subliminal message ‘do it’, which had encouraged Belknap to end his life and Vance to attempt it. The action was dismissed, with Priest frontman Rob Halford saying that if the band was going to include a subliminal message in its music, it would be ‘buy more of our records.’
Lady Gaga — is she actually a lady? (2009)
Not according to a picture taken at one of Gaga’s concerts in England, in which she appeared to reveal male parts whilst dressed in a skimpy red undergarment. While she has allegedly admitted in the past to possessing both organs, the source of those allegations was questionable to say the least and the debate soon died down.
And we even have a runner-up, which I couldn’t make this post without mentioning:
Metallica Good, Napster Bad (2000-2001)
The heavy-metal gods took on Boston college student Shawn Fanning and his file-sharing site, eventually winning the battle to have it shut down in July 2001. In other news, beer and money continue to be good, fire and grab-asses continue to be bad, Metallica’s post-2000 output continues to be ehh.
And, as promised, here are five pre-1980 incidents that make Britney look positively amateurish. . .
Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” video
Keith Moon redefines the term “car pool”
Robert Johnson sells his soul to the devil
John Lennon says Beatles are ‘bigger than Jesus‘
Jerry Lee Lewis marries his 13-year-old cousin