Public apologies have long been a bit of part of the world of pop and rock – probably something to do musicians’ peculiar habit of doing ridiculous, outrageous and often offensive things. Here’s 12 artists whose blunders – some relatively innocent and others downright despicable – have led to some memorable and surreal public apologies…
Mick Hucknall – sleeping with 3,000 women in three years
Simply Red singer-cum-lothario Mick Hucknall used a Guardian interview to apologise to an estimated 3,000 women he claims to have “simply bedded”, as the tabloids crowed afterwards, over a three-year period in the 1980s. Mick “wanted love from every woman… because I didn’t have my mother’s love” but found he “never really got the emotional contact that I craved.”
Keith Richards – for saying Mick Jagger has a “tiny todger”
There’s no doubt that Mick Jagger was pretty pissed off when Keith Richards rather boldly said he had a small penis – or “tiny todger” in Keef speak – in his autobiography. It annoyed him so much, however, that Jagger has said that an apology was a “prerequisite” to any kind of Rolling Stones 50th anniversary reunion tour in 2013. So an apology indeed followed – but you might, judging by Keith’s comments a few months afterwards, not be totally convinced by how sincere that apology was. “I’d say anything to get the band together, you know?” he told a reporter. “I’d lie to my mother.”
Paloma Faith – greeting a crowd in Gibraltar with “Hola España!”
Paloma Faith recently addressed fans in Gibraltar with a cheery “Hola España!”, obliviously going on to explain that, “it’s great to be in a place that’s half English and half Spanish.” Given the continued arguments about the British overseas territory’s sovereignty, this didn’t go down too well, leading to a wave of boos that forced a five-minute apology from the singer. TV bosses are just queueing up to give Paloma a travel show, we bet.
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith – wiping his arse with a Brazilian football shirt
If you’re going to pick a football team’s shirt to simulate wiping your arse with, probably best to go with a club that’s not Brazilian side Flamengo. Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith attempted said act with the Rio club’s kit live onstage at a show and was soon inundated with death threats from upset mega-supporters. To get on their good side once more, Smith swiftly took a photo donning the Flamengo shirt with a load of smiling fans. Own goal averted.
Death Cab For Cutie – having their Facebook page flooded with porn
In a social media nightmare for the mild-mannered alt-rock favourites, Death Cab For Cutie had their Facebook account hacked earlier this year, leading to their 2.3 million followers being subjected to very NSFW images, including some rather athletic sex positions. A genius hashtag of #DeathCabForBooty did come out of the whole affair, as well as a rather red-faced apology from the band ensuring “fans will not be subjected to these kind of posts in the future”.
Bono – putting the new U2 album on everyone’s iPods without consent
In 2014, roughly half a billion people across the world woke up to a new U2 album, forced into their iTunes libraries by Apple in what the Irishmen claimed was a novel new way of distributing music. The world was not best pleased, accusing the band and tech giant of a gross invasion of privacy. Bono soon issued a statement, putting the whole sorry mess down to a “drop of megalomania” on his part, bemoaning his own “touch of generosity” – making it kind of a #SorryNotSorry.
Macklemore – the most offensive costume in the history of live music
Macklemore’s costume he wore for a surprise Seattle gig last year, which saw him don a black suit, wig, beard and large plastic nose, understandably sparked outrage, for what many felt was an anti-Semetic caricature of Jewish style. The rapper was defiant, however, that they were all random fancy-dress items slung together, saying: “I love human beings, love originality and happen to love a weird outfit from time to time… Family, friends and fans alike who know me well, know that I’m absolutely not the person described in certain headlines today,” he wrote on his website, saying he was sorry if anyone was offended. “There is no worse feeling than being misunderstood, especially when people are hurt or offended.”
Justin Bieber – you name it
Justin Bieber has had a few shockers over the last couple of years. First, there was the pissing in a mop bucket and then dousing a picture of Bill Clinton in bleach and choice-words. Then there was a huge scandal when he posed in front of the controversial Japanese Yasukuni shrine, which honours some of Japan’s WW2 criminals. And who’s forgetting the tactless time he wrote “hopefully she would have been a Belieber” in the guestbook at the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam? He made amends for each, though, apologising in March this year for his bad boy past: “There’s been moments I’ve been proud of, then a lot of moments that I’m disappointed in myself for — things that I’ve done that really don’t define who I am… I lost my best qualities. For that I’m sorry.”
Madonna – using Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King to promote her new album
Madonna was forced to apologise after essentially comparing herself to Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. The singer likened her “#rebelheart” to those of the civil rights activists and spliced images of them with her new album’s artwork. “I’m sorry, I’m not comparing my self to anyone, I’m admiring and acknowledging there [sic] Rebel Hearts… This is niether [sic] a crime or an insult or racist!” she rallied on Facebook.
James Blunt – ‘You’re Beautiful’ being “annoying”
A school-run staple a decade ago, you couldn’t move for James Blunt’s all-conquering ‘You’re Beautiful’ at a certain point in the mid-’00s. Rather nicely, though, Blunt has since apologised for the song being “force-fed down people’s throats” and the fact that it’s “annoying.” And if that wasn’t redemption enough, the guy’s Twitter feed these last few years has famously been a treasure trove of self-deprecating humour. All is forgiven, James.
5 Seconds Of Summer – almost being melted live onstage
You’d think almost being burnt alive in a pyrotechnic accident mid-gig wouldn’t warrant any kind of apology from the poor burn victim. But in the dreamy rolling hills of Boyband Land, things work a little differently. “Sorry if I scared any children here tonight,” said 5 Seconds Of Summer guitarist Michael Clifford after he suffered burns to the head during an onstage accident while performing in London, spooking a few in the front row. “I look like Two-Face.”
Fall Out Boy – subjecting American football fans to their music
To be honest, any Fall Out Boy is usually too much Fall Out Boy once you’re out of your teenage years. So it was nice for the emo band to plead forgiveness from American football fans for the way their track ‘Centuries’ was played incessantly during the College Football Playoff on ESPN. “Hopefully we didn’t annoy you too badly!” said bassist Pete Wentz, telling Fox Sports that he couldn’t bear tuning in, so unrelenting was that song’s presence.