Caught by the fuzz: when musicians get nicked


Musicians do the craziest things – which often land them in prison. We’re taking a look back at some of the most embarrassing, druggiest and ridiculous arrests in music, starting with the Starman and friends. Following a 1976 gig, David Bowie, along with Iggy Pop and two others, was arrested in upstate New York for possession of marijuana.


Before a concert in Connecticut in 1967, Jim Morrison was arrested for indecency for hooking up with a fan in the shower backstage. Fearing a riot, the police allowed The Doors to perform, but when Morrison tried to tell the audience what had happened during the final song, he was arrested onstage.


It was a case of an icky thumping when Jack White was charged with assaulting a fellow musician at a club in Detroit. White countered the claim, saying the lead singer of The Von Blondies had attacked him. White later pleaded guilty to assault.



Eminem proved there’s still romance in rap when he fought the man who ‘kissed’ his ex-missus. The Real Slim Shady was charged with assault and carrying a concealed weapon in 2000. Slim claims the arrest inspired him to turn his life around.


Before he was flying high with Aerosmith, Steven Tyler was just high. He was charged with marijuana possession in Yonkers, New York in 1967, when the singer was just 18 years old.


‘American Idiot’ singer Billie Joe Armstrong faced DUI charges after he was caught speeding in Berkeley California. Armstrong clocked twice the legal limit on a breathalyzer when he was pulled over by the cops in his black BMW at around 1AM in January of 2003.


Ozzy Osborne offended most of Texas when he defiled a national monument (The Alamo) while wearing a dress. Ozzy was banned from San Antonio but later made amends, donating $10,000 to the historic landmark.



Billie Holiday was on her deathbed when police raided her private hospital room in 1959, after an unnamed source claimed to have found heroin in her room.


Peter Doherty leads the pack with a record 21 arrests, including ten counts of drug possession, robbery and blackmail, driving without insurance, car theft and assault…plus four for DUI offences.


No one likes going through airport security, but Axl Rose proved he hates it more than most when he was charged with disturbing the peace after he verbally assaulted an airport employee who was trying to search his bags in 1998.


In 1938, Frank Sinatra was arrested for bedding a woman “under the promise of marriage”. He was charged with seduction and adultery, but the charges were dropped when it was discovered that the woman he’d seduced was already married.



When Jimi Hendrix was arrested at the Toronto International Airport in 1969 for possession of hashish, he tried to claim a crazed fan had slipped the drugs into his bag – and it actually worked. Hendrix was acquitted of all charges.


Marilyn Manson is known for pushing the boundaries, but he pushed one security guard too far when he rubbed his crotch against his head and neck during a performance in 2001. Manson was charged with criminal sexual conduct, assault and battery.


In 1968, The Beatles’ John Lennon was arrested and hit with a £150 fine after police raided his London flat and found a quantity of cannabis resin. The following year, George Harrison’s home was raided while he was attending Sir Paul McCartney’s wedding to first wife Linda. He too was later arrested and fined.


Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump suffered the fall out of not answering a warrant for driving without a license and was arrested during a routine traffic stop in 2009.


James Brown’s offences range from drugs to weapons to assault. He once led police on a car chase involving “10 to 14 vehicles” reaching speeds up to 85 miles per hour, across two states, only surrendering when the tires on his getaway truck were shot out.


John Mayer really wanted everyone to know he’d been arrested. When no news outlets picked up the story of his early traffic violations, John offered via his Twitter to make a charitable donation of $25,000 to the publication that posted his mugshot.


Frankie Valli took the fall for a dodgy manager when he and two other Four Seasons singers were arrested for neglecting to pay a $375 hotel bill at the Springfield Holiday Inn in 1964.


In 1965, Johnny Cash was charged with possession when he was caught by US Customs in El Paso, carrying hundreds of pills hidden in his guitar case.


In 2006, Foxy Brown was charged with battery after refusing to leave a beauty supply shop after hours. Foxy was in the toilets sorting out her makeup when a shop assistant asked her to leave. Foxy refused and allegedly threw hair glue at the bewildered assistant who then phoned the police.


In 1999, Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee was arrested in North Carolina after starting a riot (back in 1997 during a gig at Greensboro Coliseum). His bandmade Nikki Sixx was also said to have made some racist comments to a security guard. The pair also allegedly poured a beer over the security guard’s head.


In 2010, Willie Nelson was caught on his Texas tour bus with six ounces of marijuana – he pleaded guilty to the offence.


Janis Joplin was charged with disorderly conduct when she shouted obscenities at police officers during a Florida gig in 1959. The charges were dropped when it was determined that she was exercising her free speech.


No one likes a sore loser, especially when he’s packing heat. The Game served 60 days in a Los Angeles lock-up for possession of a weapon in a school zone after he pulled out a gun and threatened to shoot another player during a game of basketball in 2007.


Sid was vicious long before he shot to fame with The Sex Pistols. In 1974 he was arrested for assaulting two police officers while on a messy night out.


In 2009, OutKast singer Andre 3000 was charged with speeding when he was caught in his 2007 Porsche Carrera driving 109 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone.


While on tour in 2004, The Dave Matthews Band were accused of dumping 800 pounds of human waste into a river, soaking tourists on a passing boat tour. It wouldn’t be the first time the band would be accused of pumping out shit.