The 10 Greatest Onstage Rock Star Meltdowns
You might think it’s easy being a rock star up onstage. But factor in an annoying audience member, a stray laser pen or too much pre-show booze, and you’re looking at a recipe for a meltdown
Sometimes at a show, there’s some sort of fracas in the audience, usually involving a hapless fan throwing a beer, shouting the wrong thing, or brandishing the wrong device. When the performer’s adrenaline is pumping - in veins possibly recently contaminated with drugs and/or booze - their reactions to these crowd infractions can vary, although they generally involve personal threats of sexual violence and/or security guard beatdowns). Here are ten of the most notable rock star blown tops.
Axl Rose (1988-93)
The undisputed champion was the volatile firebrand formerly known as Bill Bailey. The Guns N’ Roses frontman turned onstage meltdowns into virtually an artform during his Golden Age of Petulance circa 1988-93. His most notorious incident came in St Louis, Missouri in 1990, when he leapt into the crowd to punch a guy with a camcorder, insulted the venue’s “lame-ass security” and flounced off early, causing a riot.
Paul Stanley (1999 and 2009)
‘Laser Pointer Schmuck’ - he has his own entry at kissfaq.com - first pointed his toy at Paul Stanley during a 1999 Kiss gig, when the Starchild threatened “Put it in your pocket or I’ll put it in your ass”. Ten years later Paul got another chance to shoot sassy invective at the unseen villain in Oregon (among other dates), reiterating his threat of laser-based sodomy to the audience’s delight.
Scott Weiland (2001)
There’s a classic example of the difference between singers and guitarists in the aftermath of this California beer-throwing incident. Stone Temple Pilots axeman Dean DeLeo jumps down and fights the guy, while Scott Weiland quips “I’ve been to jail motherfucker, how about you? Let’s have some sex in my dressing room!”, before respectfully apologising for “ruining the Zen-like moment for everyone”.
Billy Corgan (2008)
“Last night’s show fucking sucked, man!” cries the disgruntled fan, invited onstage by Smashing Pumpkins mainman Corgan to amplify his heckle. After jokingly offering a refund, Billy pieces together a witty riposte. “I like that song you wrote,” the frontman offers. The audience clap. “Take Your Dick Out Of My Ass?” Big whoops. He repeats this a few times, then on a roll, adds “And Stick It in My Mouth.” Boom! That showed him…
Josh Homme (2008)
The Queen Of The Stone Age mainman was braving a “102 temperature” to play the Norwegian Wood Festival, so when someone flung a bottle his way, Homme was compelled to warn: “I’m not so sick that I can’t go down there and beat the fuck out of you.” As the punter is ejected, Josh throws the object back at him with a delirious torrent of insults: “Go back to your mom’s house you 12-year-old dickless fucking turd…”
Dave Grohl (2011)
Like a cool headmaster, the Foo Fighters frontman intervenes the second he sees a punch-up break out in his iTunes Festival crowd. “You don’t fucking fight at my show, you asshole,” he admonishes, demanding the offender’s attention and sternly ordering him to leave the hall, to a thunderous wave of adulation. The riled frontman even cuts off the audience chanting his name with a breezy: “Yeah whatever, fucking shut up.”
Courtney Love (2011)
Don’t go flashing a picture of Kurt Cobain at his widow. “I have to live with his fucking shit and his ghost and his kid every day,” explains Courtney Love to a bemused Brazilian audience. After threatening violence, she advises the fan “Go see the fucking Foo Fighters and do that shit,” before leaving the stage. She returns after some pantomime cajoling, to accuse Dave Grohl of taking food off her child’s table.
“Don’t fuck around with me, I’m not in the fucking mood,” snarls Garbage’s Shirley Manson at the man throwing things at her Portuguese festival stage, after explaining “how we make things work at my show” (transgressors are beaten up by security guards). “I’m on my period, I could eat meat,” snaps the fuming vegetarian, on commanding form, getting thrilled squeals of approval for snapping “You fucking listen to me boy.”
Billie Joe Armstrong (2012)
When Billie Joe Anderson realised Green Day’s half-hour set was up at the Vegas iHeartRadio Festival, the frontman guaranteed a lasting impression on the massive global audience gathered to watch acts like Rihanna, Usher and Taylor Swift. Furiously demanding respect for the elderly (“I’ve been around since 19-fucking-88!” he screams), BJA points out that he’s not Justin Bieber and smashes his guitar. He was admitted to rehab shortly afterwards.
Paul Di’Anno (2013)
Another suicidal faux pas in gig-going circles is to attend a Paul Di’anno concert and shout “Bruce Dickinson!” “You think that’s funny do thee, you cocksucking motherfucker?” bellows the lairy EastEnder in a West Country accent at 13:35 and threatening the inevitable security-guard pasting, before tartly observing “I don’t play opera and I’m not a ballerina.”