News that Kings Of Leon were forced to abandon their show in St Louis, Missouri after they were hit by pigeon droppings (“Pigeons shitting in Jared’s mouth’ it was too unsanitary to continue,” explained drummer Nathan Followill) inspired us to revisit some other memorable mid-gig mishaps.
Dizzee Rascal leapt into the crowd and tried to grab an audience member during his Big Day Out gig in Brisbane, Australia, (January 18) – after he was hit in the head with a stick of deodorant. Watch video footage of the fracas here – and keep clicking for more humiliating onstage incidents.
Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst incited the fury of 40,000 Metallica fans while supporting the metal gods in Chicago in 2003. While being pelted with coins and plastic cups during his band’s set, Durst suggested that the audience’s poor aim explained why the local baseball teams were so bad. Ironically, he was then struck squarely in the scrotum by a lemon.
In an uncanny echo of the ‘mini-Stonehenge’ scene featured in the film ‘This Is Spinal Tap’, Black Sabbath ordered a recreation of the famous stones to be built for their 1983-4 Born Again tour. However, they were built in metres (they specified feet), which meant the stones didn’t fit in most venues.
Beyonce’s image as an impossibly glamorous R&B diva took a knock in July 2007 when she fell arse over tit during a performance in Orlando, Florida. The vocalist tripped over on some steps and went sprawling.
During a DJ gig in Australia in 2006, Lily Allen incurred the wrath of punters when she played a string of R&B hits to a room-full of committed indie fans. The crowd deserted the dancefloor and started booing the singer with such vigour that she was forced to squat behind the DJ decks to hide.
The tradition of unpopular artists getting bottled off at Reading goes back a long way. In 1988, Meat Loaf was bombarded with bottles of urine and stopped his set to inquire: “You wanna rock ‘n’ roll, or you wanna throw stuff?” A cider flagon in the face supplied his answer, and he stormed off.
Britney Spears’ ‘comeback’ performance at the MTV Awards in September 2007 ignited an astonishing global backlash. Appearing under-rehearsed, listless and (supposedly) ‘overweight’ as she lip-synced to the track ‘Gimme More’, the singer reportedly burst into tears backstage after the performance, convinced that she’d ruined her career.
50 Cent’s performance at Reading Festival 2004 lasted just over 20 minutes. The rapper was pelted with bottles, cups and, at one point, a deckchair hurled from the crowd. He responsed by hurling his microphone to the crowd and storming off.
Panic At The Disco’s main stage performance at Reading Festival 2006 began ignominiously when frontman Brendon Urie was struck in the face by a missile thrown from the crowd. However, after a few minutes he was able to carry on with the set. “You can’t take me out,” Urie shouted to the crowd, before adding: “Let’s see how well you guys do with my left side.”
Shock rocker Alice Cooper’s most humiliating moment was when his pet boa constrictor shat all over the stage during a performance at LA’s House Of Blues venue. “Let me tell you something – there is nothing on this planet more foul than snake shit,” Cooper said of the incident.
A heartfelt tribute to fallen guitarist Brian Jones at The Rolling Stones’ giant Hyde Park gig in 1969 ended up being a damp squib. Mick Jagger, dressed in white, read from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s elegiac ‘Adonais’ before releasing thousands of butterflies – most of which were already dead.
On June 18, 2004, a gig by David Bowie in Oslo was thrown into chaos when the thin white duke was struck square in the eye with a lollipop stick that had been thrown by an audience member. The missile became wedged between his left eyeball and his eyelid. Thankfully, a panicked member of his entourage rushed onstage and helped him remove it and Bowie continued the show.
On July 2, 1991, at the Riverport Amphitheater, St. Louis, during a performance of ‘Rocket Queen’, Guns’n’Roses vocalist Axl Rose jumped into the audience and tackled a fan who was filming the show with a camera. After the fracas, Rose threw down his microphone and stormed off stage. The angry crowd began to riot and dozens of people were injured.
During a gig in 1992, Metallica frontman James Hetfield misinterpreted a stage cue and wound up standing right in the middle of a pyrotechnic stage explosion. Hetfield suffered severe second and third-degree burns to his left arm and was unable to play guitar for the last two-thirds of the tour. After his recovery, he tattooed his left arm with a picture of flames encasing four playing cards, as a reminder of his ordeal.
A 2004 co-headline tour by Jay-Z and R Kelly, entitled ‘The Best Of Both Worlds’, ended in chaos. At New York’s Madison Square Garden on October 29, Kelly quit the stage early, convinced that a member of the audience wanted to kill him. In an ensuing tussle with one of Jay-Z’s entourage, Kelly received a face full of pepper spray and was rushed to hospital.
U2 experienced a real-life ‘Spinal Tap’ moment on the opening night of their 1997 Popmart tour in Las Vegas. They had planned to emerge from within a 40-foot high lemon. However, an excess of dry ice meant guitarist The Edge couldn’t find the foot-pedal to open it, leaving the foursome trapped inside.
The Stone Roses’ headline set at the 1996 Reading Festival has gone down in history as one of the most disastrous live performances of all time. John Squire and Reni had already quit, leaving a band augmented by noodly session musicians to accompany Ian Brown’s startlingly off-key vocals. The band split soon after, prompting Damon Albarn to comment: “It ain’t over until the flat laddie sings.”
In February 2007 Razorlight were forced to halt a gig in Lyon after Johnny Borrell and bassist Carl Dalemo were involved in an onstage altercation. Halfway through the band’s set at the Ninkasi Stadium in France’s second city, an argument broke out between Borrell and Dalemo. The pair then came to blows and Borrell left the stage followed by the rest of the band.
One of Babyshambles’ biggest ever gigs ended in ignominy when Pete Doherty became embroiled in an onstage punch-up with guitarist Patrick Walden. During a gig at the Brixton Academy in February 2005 Doherty accidentally disconnect Walden’s guitar, leading the pair to trade kicks and punches. Bouncers stepped in and the band left the stage, but returned after five minutes and finished their 50-minute performance.
Pic: PA Photos
Katy Perry recently endured a humiliating slip-up at the MTV Latin American Awards in Mexico. After performing ‘I Kissed A Girl’ while perched atop a giant four-tier cake, the 23-year-old slipped on the icing and fell flat on her face. After repeated attempts to right herself she gave up and crawled off stage on her hands on knees. All this before a TV audience of tens of millions.
On June 28, 2008, while performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, Amy Winehouse lashed out at a member of the audience, appearing to punch a man in the front row. James Gostelow, who bore the brunt of Winehouse’s ire, saw the funny side, saying: “At the end of the day it is all part of the Glastonbury experience.”
Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie endured the ultimate embarrassment when she wet herself during a gig in San Diego. Worse, the resulting damp patch was caught on camera. She later said, ruefully: “That’s one picture I’ll never live down.”
Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic embarrassed himself at the 1993 VMA awards. Near the conclusion of the group’s performance of ‘Lithium,’ Krist threw his guitar into the air, only to have it hit him squarely in the head on its descent. He fell to the ground and crawled offstage while the rest of the band played on.
Babyshambles have experienced many ‘onstage disasters’, but the most remarkable happened during a gig at the London Astoria in 2004. When Pete Doherty failed to appear, a riot broke out. Later, while in prison, Doherty noted: “If I can see through the Astoria riot, I can see through Wormwood Scrubs.”
No stranger to wild onstage behaviour, Courtney Love was charged with third-degree assault and reckless endangerment after allegedly injuring a man by throwing a microphone stand into the crowd during a performance at New York’s Plaid nightclub in 2004.
Pop star Ashlee Simpson squandered what little credibility she ever had in 2004, when it was revealed that she had lip-synced a performance on ‘Saturday Night Live’. Her vocals continued, even though her microphone was by her side. Simpson’s father later explained that she was only lip-syncing because she was suffering from acid reflux which made her voice hoarse.