There seems to be a rock star apology every week, doesn’t there? Here’s some of the most grovelling examples. This week Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith was forced into a humiliating apology after he appeared to wipe his bum with a Brazilian football team’s strip. Flamengo fans booed, and internet death threats followed. “My joke about team rivalries went too far,” he tweeted, “I’m sorry.”
John Lennon stoked the ire of the religious right in America in 1966 when he claimed the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. The flippant remark prompted conservative Christians to publicly burn Fab Four records, and Lennon soon repented. In ‘78 he thanked the Ku Klux Klan for ending the Beatles touring days which he likened to being “performing fleas”.
Justin Timberlake spends a lot of time apologising. He said sorry to America for Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction (we Europeans mostly chortled at ‘nipplegate’), and he even apologised for a video he had no part in making featuring a cast of vagrants wishing him and new wife Jessica Biel luck in their conjugal felicity. Stop apologising man!
London-born singer Jessie J said sorry to fans after an offensive message by hackers calling themselves Killuminati appeared on her website. The intruders clearly had a truck with J’s record company, also home to Lady Gaga, as the message read: “The whole Universal Republic can suck Lady Gaga’s dick”. Oh dear, somebody didn’t get signed.
BBC Radio 1
The Twitter feed for Radio 1’s Breakfast Show took us back to the 70’s (or at least to the days of Chris Moyles) recently when some bright spark tweeted that guest Hannah Reid from London Grammar was “fit”. The post provoked a torrent of anger and a swift apology was issued, though the claim it was meant to be “ironic” falls down under the flimsiest of scrutiny.
J-Lo has much to apologise for, not least of all for making Heather Mills’ leg fall off, but worse still she was accused of accepting large amounts of money to serenade “crooks and dictators”. Lopez later apologised after she’d sung ‘Happy Birthday’ to the president of Turkmenistan, a man human rights groups said had “ruled with an iron fist since 2006.”
How people loved that cheeky K-pop chappy with the silly horsey dance and the most watched YouTube clip of all time, ‘Gangham Style’. The song might have been a hoot but rapping about killing US soldiers “slowly and painfully” is definitely Un-American, as Psy did earlier in his career. “I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused,” he proffered.
Blur bassist Alex James might never have apologised for his columns in The Sun newspaper seemingly endorsing American fastfood outlets, though he did say sorry when the promoters of his Harvest Festival went tits up. James attempted to disassociate himself from Big Wheel Promotions, which went into administration after an event held at his cheese farm.
A decade-and-a-half spat between “fat dancer” Robbie Williams and Noel Gallagher was seemingly ended when the pop singer sent an email to the former Oasis guitarist apologising – hopefully – for childishness. The final salvos in the war of words included Williams telling Noel to “lick my arse” and Noel retorting that he’d rather “suck on [Robbie’s] man boobs”.
The Who legend Pete Townshend was unimpressed when a 7-year-old girl held up a sign reading “Smash your guitar, Pete” at a ‘Quadrophenia’ performance in Ontario in Feb. “Don’t bring your children [or] use them,” he grumbled before apparently mouthing the words “fuck off”. Townshend issued an apology and sought to meet with the family to say sorry in person.
The artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince, smashed up a 1961 Epiphone Crestwood guitar on Jimmy Fallon, borrowed from The Roots’ Kirk Douglas for a two-song performance. Douglas chastised: “Maybe it’s because I’m a dad but I think framing the guitar is a little like rewarding bad behaviour.” Ever the big man, Prince said “sorry”.
Police drummer Stewart Copeland made an idiot of himself not for the first time when he told a South American newspaper the Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner would be “good for one beer”, not so Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who would only become attractive after “four beers”. Word got back to Bachelet, which left Copeland “mortified”.
The ever-humble singer Phil Collins apologised in 2011, not for dumping his wife by fax or for leaving the country to avoid tax or for providing 80% of what gets played in Belgian supermarkets, but for being too successful. “It’s hardly surprising people grew to hate me,” he lamented upon retiring from music forever, which he’s so far stuck to. Don’t rush back now!
Bookish gothfather Nick Cave apologised to Avril Lavigne and Kylie when his book The Death of Bunny Munro was released in 2009, due to the protagonist of the novel’s sexual interest in the pair. “I would like to publicly apologise to both of them, especially Avril Lavigne,” he said, “I know Kylie and at least, I hope, she will take it in the spirit it was written.”
Brit Awards (o Adele)
You come from a tiny island punching above it’s weight and sell more records than anyone else on earth. How does the main award ceremony in your home country honour the millions of records you sell? It shuts you up mid-acceptance speech and pans to a slightly below par Blur. Adele flipped the bird, the Brit Awards was left with some grovelling to do.
Elton was never one to hold back where Madonna was concerned, once referring to her as “a fucking fairground stripper”. Then that embarrassing moment where la Ciccone walks into the same French restaurant. What to do? Elton promptly sent over a note to say sorry and bought her Madge’s dinner. “She was very gracious,” said John.
The wagging finger of controversy has aimed itself at Brian Harvey often, including the time he ate too many baked potatoes and ran himself over, but 1997 was comparably dark for the singer. He claimed he’d take up to 12 tablets of ecstasy on a night out, was then promptly fired by East 17, and had to make a series of public apologies, including to the family of Leah Betts.
Stone Roses’ legendary bassist Mani made himself unpopular with another legendary bassist, Peter Hook not so long ago by claiming on Twitter that Hook was “living off Ian Curtis’ blood money”. He then backtracked, apologising “unreservedly” to his Manchester counterpart and one-time bandmate in Freebass for comments that were “totally out of character for me.”
A bizarre video emerged online this year featuring Justin Bieber urinating in a restaurant mop bucket and shouting “fuck Bill Clinton”. WT flippin’ F? Justin later took to Twitter to reveal what a “#greatguy” the 42nd President was. Clinton, no stranger to the hostile glare of the media, is said to have offered salutary guidance to the increasingly wild Canadian singer.
Chris Brown might have apologised to Rihanna for beating her up and the pair might have been reconciled for a short time, though turning the other cheek is difficult with this one, especially given Brown’s choice of tattoos. “I have let a lot of people down I realise that,” he said in a recorded video. “Nobody is more disappointed in me than I am.”