As Miley Cyrus and the Flaming Lips prepare for the health department nightmare that is the world's first all-naked concert, here's 20 times famous performers have gotten outside of their clothes — to make a statement, to increase sales or just because they thought no one was looking.
There are many versions of what went down at Keith Moon's 20th birthday party but they all involve the Who drummer ending up without pants. We know the bacchanal took place at the Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan, and that Moon, fleeing sheriff's deputies, slipped on some birthday cake and chipped his tooth. As for the rest? Maybe the festivities began with the drummer dynamiting toilets. Maybe Herman's Hermits depansted him. Maybe he drove a Cadillac into the motel pool. Or maybe it was a Lincoln Continental. The important thing is, you could totally see the wild man's junk.
While John's wife Cynthia was vacationing in Greece, he invited Yoko Ono over for some experimental music and chill. The two proceeded to record hours of unlistenable sounds, essentially as foreplay. "Instead of making love, we went upstairs and made tapes. And then as the sun rose we made love and that was Two Virgins," Lennon later said. Even more startling for Beatles fans than the decidedly un-pop recordings released as Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins was the album art — a full frontal nude shot of John and Yoko, with a matching portrait from the rear on the flipside. EMI refused to distribute the record: When it did appear in stores, it was often sold it in a brown bag.
The Doors frontman's notorious inability to keep his kingsnake from crawling out of his leather pants landed him in the Dade County pen. He allegedly whipped out his regal lizard in front of "hundreds of unescorted junior and senior high school girls," according to the Miami Herald. Morrison denied the charges (officially: "lewd and lascivious behavior in public by exposing his private parts and by simulating masturbation and oral copulation"); and an appeal of his conviction was still pending when he died in 1971. Guitarist Robbie Krieger, taking a "pics or it didn't happen" stance, has long since supported Jim's claim to innocence, and in 2010 outgoing Florida Governor Charlie Crist won the late singer a full pardon.
This photo of Janis Joplin, wearing only beads and folding her hands strategically below her waist, became her most representative image when it was published in 1972, after her death. The iconic shot, captured by photographer and graphic designer Bob Seidemann in 1967, offers a poignant glimpse back at hippie idealism. According to Seidemann, he'd wanted just to shoot Joplin topless, but she insisted on full nudity. "That's the way she was," the photographer said. "She wanted to take her clothes off real bad."
Far more talented and beloved musicians have stripped for Rolling Stone over the years. But multiple generations of former teen idols who take off their clothes as a way of announcing their maturity can thank the artist formerly known as Keith Partridge. Cassidy hoped that Annie Leibovitz's nude portraits — revealing just enough bare hip to demonstrate the 21-year-old Partridge Family star's nakedness on the cover, cropped just below the pubes inside the mag — would help him shed his bubblegum image. The accompanying story, "Naked Lunch Box," in which he discussed his drug use ("not smack, but grass and speed and psychedelics"), essentially linked nudity and candor.
David Bowie became a star by playing up the otherworldly nature of his emaciated, androgynous pallor. But the most fully realized alien he embodied may not be Ziggy Stardust, but Thomas Newton, the enigmatic spaceman at the center of Nicolas Roeg's jarring 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth (even if Bowie now claims he was so coked up he barely remembers the filming at all). Much as he had done with Mick Jagger in Performance, Roeg played off Bowie's celebrity allure, proving that stripping a star naked only increases his mystique. The extended nude romp between Bowie and Candy Clark includes a gun as sex prop.
"We're not 50-year-old patrons of the arts," underground New York writer Dennis Cooper announced in the first issue of his magazine. "We're young punks just like you." And for 12 issues, Cooper's zine-turned-journal was where avant-garde poetry and punk-y glamour consummated their relationship. Issue 8 of Little Caesar boasted the mag's defining image: a full frontal black-and-white shot of Iggy Pop in his sinewy prime. The muscular definition of his upper body and his confident swagger were striking that his significant, uh, passenger might not even be the first thing you notice.
We had already seen a lot of Prince in the Eighties, whether he was proudly showing off his briefs on the cover of 1980's Dirty Mind, rising from the bath with sexual menace in the video for 1984's "When Doves Cry" or baring gratuitous side-butt (with a raised knee obscuring our view of his scepter) on the Lovesexy album cover in 1988. But his most daring moment of exposure came while performing "Get Off" on the VMAs. Prince's neatly tailored leopard-print outfit was indeed eye-catching but, for such a notorious exhibitionist, seemed relatively modest. Then he turned his back to the crowd.
No celebrity had ever commanded control over her own naked image so audaciously as Madonna in this coffee table book. Bonus skin: shots of Big Daddy Kane and Vanilla Ice, in their physical prime, captured for the ages.
Copious nudity was pretty much the least offensive part of GG Allin's act. This doc, filmed when The Hangover's Todd Phillips was still an NYU student, allowed curious bystanders to experience the brutal essence of Allin's live show without the danger that the deranged punk would hit you with a beer bottle, his fist or worse. The film's centerpiece takes place in the East Village club Space at Chase, during an early-Nineties parole-violating tour, where a drunken, naked Allin takes a dump on the floor and flings it at the audience.
Rage Against the Machine were still rap-metal up-and-comers when they took the Lollapalooza stage in Philadelphia, naked, gags on their mouths, a letter painted on the chest of each member to spell out "PMRC." The band stood in silent protest of the industry's capitulation to censorious prudery from the Parents Music Resource Center, the organization that, in 1985, had pressured the RIAA into slapping Parental Advisory labels on all but the most squeaky-clean of albums. The naked stand lasted long enough for the crowd to begin booing until police hauled them off. Bassist Tim Commerford later recalled that his manhood looked like "a half roll of nickels. It was as if I came out of the ocean … I was trying to fluff things up to get the blood flow to happen."
In 1995, the internet lost its virginity. In the Eighties, a homemade flick of two famous newlyweds — Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and Baywatch star Pamela Anderson — celebrating their love would have circulated only via faded bootleg dubs. But the recording spread ridiculously fast online. The internet, first created for national security purposes and then publicized with the high-minded goal of allowing the spread of useful knowledge and productive commerce, promptly revealed its earthier uses. Tommy and Pam soon settled out of court with the company that posted the video, which was allowed to continue marketing the sex tape.
In "Thank U," the first single from Alanis Morisette's 1998 album Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, the singer strides through L.A. wearing nothing but a beatific look, bestowing gratitude upon the universe. The idea came to her in the shower, Morissette later said, and was to be "less about overt sexuality and more about the symbolism of being really raw and naked and intimate in all these environments where you'd seemingly need protection."
The Chili Peppers were the nakedest band of the Nineties, often wearing tube socks (and nothing more) as though they were heavy-duty knit foreskins (a practice the band started way back in 1983). So it's only fitting that Flea, whose member was the most frequently seen of all the band's members, would cap off the decade by repeatedly wearing nothing but his bass onstage. He was nude at Reading and at Leeds and, most notably, at Woodstock '99.
"I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song," sang Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson's surprise guest for her Superbowl XXXVIII halftime show. Then JT yanked open Jacksons's outfit to reveal a breast and, many viewers believed, a nipple (though, in fact, it was mostly obscured by jewelry). Janet's spokespeople called this a "wardrobe malfunction." Media bottom-feeders dubbed the affair "Nipplegate." The FCC slapped CBS with an unprecedentedly high fine of $550,000 (later reduced in court). The event became the most recorded and (in those pre-YouTube days) most replayed TV moment in TiVo history.
In the video for "Lessons Learned," hyper-poppers Matt & Kim stroll through Times Square, gradually shedding clothing until they're fully nude, instigating a police chase. Erykah Badu was so inspired by the video, which she called "the bravest, most liberating thing I've ever seen two people do," that she riffed off its concept and whipped up an impromptu clip for "Window Seat" in Dealey Plaza, the Dallas site where JFK was gunned down. "John F. Kennedy … was not afraid to butt heads with America, and I was not afraid to show America my butt-naked truth," Badu later told Wanda Sykes. For their troubles Badu was fined $500 for disorderly conduc; Matt & Kim were swagger-jacked in the Oscar-winning film Birdman.
It's all on tape: DMX darting around a Detroit hotel in nothing but socks and a court-ordered ankle bracelet. When asked to comment on the incident, X barked with glee, "I'm not ashamed of anything I got."
One night in Stockholm, Lenny Kravitz was performing commando in skintight leather pants, as Lenny Kravitz will do. And, as Lenny Kravitz will also do, he was running through his flashy rock star moves, including a dramatic forward-leaning squat that was more than his trouser crotch could handle. The pants split wide open and out came Little Lenny. It was a surprise sartorial spectacle worthy of Cinna himself, especially since it permitted a glimpse of a sizable genital piercing. "It hits the woman in the clitoris during intercourse," said the woman responsible for the rocker's penile ornamentation. "He's definitely a giver."
Justin Bieber's penis, nicknamed "Jerry" by Beliebers on social media years ago, was briefly made a cause célèbre via rumors that the underwear bulge in his Calvin Klein ads had been Photoshopped. Paparazzi put all discussion to rest when a full-frontal image of the Bieb, captured while the pop star was strolling outside a vacation home in Bora Bora, appeared online. In response, Justin's dad Jeremy tweeted: "what do you feed that thing. #proud daddy" Justin, to his credit, shrugged off the pic and his pop's reaction, saying "What dad wouldn't be proud of that?"
In recent years, Miley Cyrus has become one our most clothing-optional pop stars, most notably clad in nothing but a wrecking ball. And her creepy uncle Wayne Coyne is just as happy to strip down, appearing nude in the video for the Flaming Lips' "Watching the Planets" back in 2009. So when it was announced that Cyrus and the Lips would perform in the buff before a wholly naked audience, no one was exactly surprised. The concert will double as a video shoot for "Milky Milky Milk," with both band and crowd covered in white goop.