Trashing rooms. Exploding toilets. Driving a Lincoln Continental into a hotel swimming pool … while naked. When rock stars get arrested, they really go big. (And that was just Keith Moon! In a single night!). Here's 29 more of the most humiliating times big stars got busted.
The Doors' charismatic frontman was certainly no stranger to riling up concert audiences or running afoul of the police, but drunkenly asking, "Do you want to see my cock?" to 10,000 fans at Miami's Dinner Key Auditorium was an exceptionally provocative move, even by his own lofty standards. While no one was ever able to prove that Morrison actually whipped it out during his band's disastrous concert on March 2nd, 1969, the ensuing media circus and public outcry over his alleged wang-wave compelled the Florida State's Attorney's Office to issue a warrant for his arrest. After surrendering to the authorities in 1970, Morrison stood trial and was sentenced to six months in jail for indecent exposure and "open profanity"; he died in Paris while his appeal was still pending. In 2010, Morrison was posthumously pardoned by Florida Governor Charlie Crist and the state's clemency board.
It was just another narcotics sweep of Washington Square Park, with the NYPD rounding up the typical array of drug buyers and sellers. So imagine the surprise of New York's finest — and the rest of the world — when one of the people they arrested on April 16th, 1993 turned out to be David Lee Roth, who was busted in the midst of procuring a five-dollar bag of marijuana. The most shocking part of the whole incident was not that the once and future Van Halen frontman liked to smoke weed, but that he would make the rookie mistake of attempting to score some "Jamaican bunk reefer" in a touristy, cop-heavy place like Washington Square. It was unquestionably the nadir of DLR's career, at least until the 2002 VHS release of Diamond Dave's No Holds Bar-B-Que.
The late Wu-Tang Clan member's legal troubles were many, and most of them were rather less than humorous in nature. Still, it's hard not to laugh at the absurdity of October 28, 2000, when — a month after the rapper had skipped out on a court-mandated rehab stint — ODB was busted in the drive-thru of a Philadelphia McDonald's. The on-the-lam rapper, who had already caused a stir a week earlier by showing up at a Wu-Tang record release party in New York City, was recognized (and subsequently arrested) by a policewoman while he was signing autographs in the fast-food establishment's parking lot. Seems the officer's son was a big ODB fan, so she knew his face from his album covers. His drive-thru order has, sadly, been lost to history.
On September 18th, 2006, Willie Nelson's tour bus was pulled over on a Louisiana highway for a routine commercial-vehicle inspection, which became somewhat less than routine once a pound and a half of marijuana and over three ounces of psychedelic mushrooms were discovered within. Though a pound and a half is probably about how much Willie smokes in a week, the sheer size of the stash would have been enough to put him away for felony distribution; but since four others on the bus also claimed to own the drugs, he got away with a misdemeanor. The country legend made headlines again in 2010 with an on-bus pot bust in Texas, leading one to wonder why Willie even bothers touring the south at all at this point — or, conversely, why his tour schedule isn't posted on the bulletin board of every sheriff's office from Texas to Florida.
In January 1980, while preparing for Wings' first tour of Japan — and his first visit to the island nation since his Beatles days — Paul McCartney packed a suitcase with all the essentials: toothbrush, pajamas, clothes. . . and eight ounces of high-grade cannabis. "I knew I wouldn't be able to get anything to smoke over there," he recalled in a 2004 interview. "The stuff was too good to flush down the toilet, so I thought I'd take it with me." This shocking lapse of judgment led to a nine-day stay in Tokyo's Narcotics Detention Center, the costly cancellation of Wings' Japanese tour and the eventual breakup of Wings itself. "The band was very annoyed with me because me being busted had blown one of their big pay days," he reflected later. "Nobody was too happy with me at the time." Paul doubtless remembered to leave the weed at home before embarking on his more recent Japanese tours.
One of the greatest drummers in rock history, the Who's Keith Moon was equally legendary for the epic swath of destruction he left in his wake during his brief time on earth. His legend was officially cemented on August 23rd, 1967, when he was arrested after celebrating his 21st birthday — it was really only his 20th, but Keith wanted to be able to have a drink — with a food-fight at a Flint, Michigan Holiday Inn that escalated into full-scale mayhem. Rooms were trashed, toilets exploded, fire extinguishers set off, and a Lincoln Continental rolled into the swimming pool with a naked Moon behind the wheel. Before jailing him, the Flint police escorted Moon (who'd broken a tooth while attempting to flee) to a local dentist; the drummer was supposedly so drunk that he didn't require Novocaine. The Holiday Inn chain sent the Who a $24,000 bill for damages, and banned the group from further stays at any of their motels.
While Keith Richards' bouts with the law are the stuff of rock & roll lore, his bandmates Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman are on the books for the silliest legal run-in in Stones history. On the night of March 18th, 1965, while on the way home from a gig, the band stopped at a gas station in East Ham, U.K. and asked if they could use the restroom. When attendant Charles Keeley — who didn't care for their longhaired sort — refused to hand over the lavatory key, Jagger uttered the immortal words, "We'll piss anywhere, man," which the rest of the Stones took up as a chant ("One danced to the phrase," a traumatized Keeley later recounted in court) while Wyman relieved himself on the station wall. Jagger, Wyman and Jones were fined five pounds and change, a small price to pay for an incident that significantly burnished their rebellious credentials.
The Black Crowes frontman needed a legal "remedy" after being arrested in May 1991 for an incident at a Denver-area 7-Eleven. Robinson was in the midst of buying beer when a female customer noticed his long-limbed presence. "There's the singer of the Black Crowes," she excitedly informed her friend, whose innocent-enough reply of, "Who are the Black Crowes?" sent Robinson into a vein-bulging frenzy. After berating the second woman for her eating habits (she was purchasing Twinkies at the time), the singer spit on her and stormed out with two cases of beer, which he'd been too consumed by rage to remember to pay for. Robinson later pleaded no contest to assault and disturbing the peace, receiving six months' probation and a $53 dollar fine.
Jerry Lee added a particularly colorful entry to his extensive rap sheet in the wee hours of November 23rd, 1976, when he drove to the Memphis home of his former Sun Records labelmate Elvis Presley and demanded entry. "Get on the goddamn phone," Lewis ordered Harold Lloyd, Elvis's first cousin, who was on guard duty that night at the Graceland gates. "Call up there and tell Elvis I wanna visit with him. Who the hell does he think he is? Tell him the Killer's here to see him." The impromptu Killer-King summit was thwarted by Lloyd, who — noting that Lewis was raving drunk and waving around a .38 derringer pistol — wisely opted to call the cops, instead. It took five police officers to extract Lewis from his Lincoln Continental, but not before he'd smashed out one of the car's windows with an empty champagne bottle.
Was he picking flowers on private property, as some have claimed, or was he just walking to the store to buy some cigarettes? Either way, Johnny Cash was out well past Starkville, Mississippi's city curfew on the night of May 11th, 1965, and he was unquestionably inebriated. Tossed into the local jail to sober up, Cash repeatedly kicked his cell door until he broke one of his big toes. The Man in Black (who would be arrested again later in the year with a suitcase full of "pep pills") at least got a good song out of the incident — "Starkville City Jail" — and his cellmate, a 15-year-old boy who'd also been popped for public intoxication, got a keepsake or two. Right before his release, the singer turned and handed his shoes to the boy. "Here's a souvenir," he growled. "I'm Johnny Cash."
On August 27th, 2004, Foxy Brown entered a New York City nail salon for a mani/pedi. When the salon forgot to make good on the manicure, but charged her $20 for both services anyway, Brown proceeded to go seriously upside the head of the salon's manager, then socked another of the establishment's employees with her cell phone when they tried to prevent her from leaving. The rapper was sentenced to three years probation and anger-management classes over the incident, which eventually (thanks to a violation of said probation) turned into a year in jail. The anger management classes apparently didn't take, at least not where Ms. Brown's "nail rage" was concerned; in 2011, she was kicked off a Royal Caribbean cruise after throwing a crazed tantrum over — you guessed it — a manicure appointment.
Boy George's 1995 autobiography was titled Take It Like a Man, which presumably was the same advice he imparted to Audun Carlson 12 years later, while handcuffing the male escort to a bed at his London home. What had started out as a simple sex-and-naked-photos session apparently went south when, after a few lines of coke, the former Culture Club singer accused Carlson of hacking into his home computer. After cuffing him with the help of an unnamed man, George brought out a box of leather straps, chains and sex toys, and informed Carlson, "Now you're going to get what you deserve." Carlsen wrenched himself free from his shackles and managed to escape, though not before being lashed several times with a chain on his way out the door. The singer was eventually convicted of assault and false imprisonment for his involvement in the incident, and sentenced to 15 months in jail in the U.K. In the U.S., Boy George ran into a similar dilemma in 2005, when he called cops to report a burglary in his Manhattan apartment and cops found cocaine when they responded to the scene. He was sentenced to community service and wound up cleaning the streets of New York.
"To live outside the law, you must be honest," Bob Dylan once sang, though just looking like the Mighty Zimm does can be enough to put the Man on your case these days. On July 23rd, 2009, some residents of Long Branch, New Jersey, called the cops after being unsettled by the sight of an "eccentric-looking old man" wandering around their neighborhood on a rainy afternoon. The wanderer in question told police that he was Bob Dylan, in town on a tour with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp; but since he wasn't carrying any ID (and was less than tastefully attired in two hooded raincoats with black sweatpants tucked into rain boots), the police suspected he was actually an escapee from a local mental hospital. Things were thankfully cleared up with a trip to Dylan's tour bus, where the cops released him after getting a look at his passport.
On October 28th, 2010, police in Berlin, Germany, arrested Travie McCoy and an unnamed accomplice for tagging one of the last remnants of the historic Berlin Wall. How did they know that McCoy was their graffiti culprit? Well, it seems that the rapper/Gym Class Heroes frontman had not only tweeted his intent to hit the Wall beforehand, but also later tweeted a pic of his finished artwork. (The fact that he'd written "Travie McCoy" in blue-bubble lettering was an additional tip-off.) McCoy and friend were eventually released on $2,000 bond.
There's a proper way to "make it rain" at a strip club, but Trey Songz allegedly took a different tack during an August 2012 record release party at Club Perfection, a Queens, New York gentleman's club. Songz was arrested a month later on charges of misdemeanor assault, stemming a club employee's claim that he'd injured her by hitting her in the eye with money. (Was it a roll of quarters?) However, a subsequent investigation by the Queens D.A. office failed to prove that there was any "clear case of misconduct," and let Songz off the hook.
On June 24th, 2004, DMX went on a Romeo Must Die-worthy tear that ended with his arrest on, among others, charges of drugs and weapons possession, driving under the influence and criminal menacing and mischief — all while claiming to be an FBI agent. The rapper, speeding with a friend through a parking lot at John F. Kennedy International Airport, used a police light and a siren to pull over another vehicle and, after identifying himself as FBI, attempted to forcibly remove its driver from the car. He had also crashed his Ford Expedition, from which police later retrieved more than a dozen loose rocks of crack cocaine, various prescription drugs and a billy club, through a parking-lot exit gate. Five years after the incident, DMX was ordered to pay the driver he had victimized, Sergei Priporin, $240,000 in damages. But in an interview on New York's Power 105.1, the rapper defended his actions: "He was just totally disrespecting my authority," DMX said of Priporin. "Not that I really had any authority. . .but what if I really did have the authority?"
In March 1965, a used-car salesman approached Frank Zappa, then a 24-year-old struggling musician and composer, and offered him $100 to produce a sex tape for a party. A gig being a gig, Zappa and a go-go dancer friend spent an evening recording fake squeals, grunts and bedspring squeaks onto a cassette. An easy payday — except for the fact that the used-car salesman turned out to be Sergeant Jim Willis, Vice Investigator of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office. Zappa was busted on a felony charge of conspiracy to commit pornography, and cops raided his Cucamonga, California recording facility, Studio Z. His sentence was ultimately reduced to just 10 days of jail time — still enough, as it turned out, to earn Zappa draft exemption from Vietnam as a convicted felon. Which possibly helped pave the way for a career that boasted more than its share of truly filthy musical moments. One can only wonder what Sgt. Willis must have thought of "Bobby Brown". . .
In August 1993, a SWAT team was sent to the Miami Shores, Florida home of Yngwie Malmsteen after Elaine Potter, the mother of his then 19-year-old girlfriend, Amber Landin, accused the Swedish guitar god of holding her daughter hostage while equipped with a small arsenal of firearms. She also claimed Malmsteen pointed a shotgun at her and threatened her life. After a tense four-and-a-half-hour standoff, Malmsteen surrendered and was ushered out of his house by police — wearing only sunglasses and a bathrobe open to his stomach. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and jailed on $7,500 bond. But that's about as far as thing went: Landin, who later became his wife, gave a statement to the police denying she had been held against her will or assaulted. Which explains why, as the bathrobe-d Malmsteen was being cuffed and carted off, the Associated Press quoted him as saying, "I have no idea what's up."
In April 2001, the usually mild-mannered Peter Buck boarded a British Airways flight from Seattle to London and proceeded to, according to prosecutors at a later trial, drink 15 glasses of wine, flip over a service cart, get stuck between seats, dump yogurt on himself and a crewmember and assault various flight attendants, including choking one with his necktie. Upon landing at Heathrow Airport, the R.E.M. guitarist was arrested on two counts of common assault, as well as for being drunk on an aircraft and damaging British Airways crockery. Buck quickly issued a public apology, claiming he had downed a strong sleeping pill and had no recollection of what had occurred after. He also had some famous friends come to his defense: Among the big names that testified at the ensuing trial was Bono, who called the incident "ridiculous." Many people no doubt would agree.
In January 1981, Plasmatics provocateur Wendy O. Williams was arrested after a gig at Milwaukee's Palms nightclub for simulating oral sex and masturbation — with a sledgehammer. Williams was charged with obscene conduct, but that was only the beginning of her problems. A scuffle broke out during the post-show arrest, resulting in Williams and her manager, Rod Swensen, receiving a beating at the hands of policemen. Williams earned an additional count of battery, but photos taken of the assault led to all charges against her ultimately being dropped. Which allowed the singer to carry on practicing her particular brand of performance art: Just days later, Williams was nabbed in Cleveland, again for simulating a sex act onstage — only this time while wearing a bra made of nothing but shaving cream.
Ozzy Osbourne has pulled a lot of outrageous stunts in his career — biting the head off a bat; snorting up a row of ants like it was insect cocaine; covering Black Sabbath's "Changes" with his daughter, Kelly — but one of his most notorious exploits didn't actually happen. According to legend, following a show at San Antonio's Convention Center on February 19th, 1982, the self-proclaimed Prince of Fucking Darkness whipped out his wang and whizzed on a wall of that most beloved of Texas landmarks, the Alamo. Which wasn't exactly the case. In reality, the Ozzman was actually across the road from the famous mission, next to a 60-foot cenotaph commemorating the Battle of the Alamo, when he urinated on the sidewalk. . .while blitzed out of his mind. . .and wearing one of his wife (then girlfriend) Sharon's dresses. Osbourne was summarily arrested and charged with public intoxication. As a bonus, he was also slapped with a decade-long ban from performing in the good city of San Antonio.
Though post-grungers Puddle of Mudd have been out of the public eye for roughly a decade, in recent years the band's frontman, Wes Scantlin, has managed to garner plenty of press ink through a series of arrests that include charges of cocaine possession, public intoxication and domestic violence. But his biggest hit in this realm came in July of last year, when, after fighting with his neighbor, electro-pop artist Sasha Gradiva, Scantlin grabbed a sledgehammer and smashed up a cinder block wall he felt had been erected on his side of their shared property line, and then attacked her patio with a buzz saw. Scantlin was charged with felony vandalism but remained indignant that it was Gradiva, and not he, who was guilty of disrespecting property boundaries. "My neighbor vandalized my house," Scantlin told TMZ, "so I had to take action."
Early in the morning on December 6th, 1996, Public Enemy hypeman Flavor Flav was arrested after two officers in the NYPD's Street Crime Unit observed him riding his bicycle against traffic on Grand Concourse Ave. in the South Bronx. Which, on its own, doesn't exactly warrant a trip to the slammer. What will send a man straight to jail, however, is the fact that, at the time of the incident, Flav had two pounds of weed stuffed into the pocket of his jacket. For Flav, the charge of third-degree criminal possession of marijuana came just a year after a bust for carrying a .380 semiautomatic handgun and three vials of crack. And just where did that arrest take place? In the South Bronx, on Grand Concourse Ave.
In what reads like a perfectly executed PR stunt for a man who made his name as a badass redneck rapper, Kid Rock spent a day in jail on a simple battery charge after being involved in an early morning brawl at, of all places, a Waffle House. Following a gig at the Tabernacle in Atlanta in October 2007, the artist and his entourage were enjoying breakfast at one of the restaurant chain's area locations when another patron, Harlen Akins, exchanged words with a woman in Rock's crew. A fight ensued — and was caught on Waffle House security cameras — though Rock claimed he only argued with Akins and never physically assaulted him. Nevertheless, a jury later awarded Akins $40,000 in compensatory damages, of which Rock was ordered to pay a portion. Rock later explained what exactly went down at the WH during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show: "One thing led to another," he told DeGeneres, "windows were broken, and, you know, cussin' and fussin', the mud, the blood and the beer. . ."
GG Allin claimed to have been arrested more than 50 times in his lifetime, but one of his most infamous busts came on February 18th, 1992, after a gig with his band, the Murder Junkies, at Austin's Cavity Club. Like most Allin performances at that time, the show quickly devolved into horrific spectacle, with the singer naked and covered in his own blood and feces. Austin's finest were eventually called to the scene, where one policeman, according to a filed report, witnessed people "running away from the stage gasping and covering their faces." Another concertgoer gave a statement attesting to the fact that "the band member that was nude threw feces. . .striking him [in] the head." Allin himself was sent to nearby Brackenridge Hospital to be treated for a self-inflicted head wound. From there it was on to central booking, where he was arrested — and later extradited to Michigan — on an outstanding warrant stemming from a parole violation for an assault charge.
Suppose you're on an airplane cruising 30,000 miles above ground and you really need to use the bathroom — and they're all occupied. What do you do? If you're former Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin, caught somewhere between Indianapolis and Los Angeles with a few too many Bacardi and Cokes in your system, you declare, "I'm not waiting any longer," unzip your pants and urinate on the carpet of the plane's galley. For good measure, Stradlin also spent his hours on USAir Flight 350 on August 27th, 1989, verbally abusing the stewardesses and lighting up cigarettes in a non-smoking section. When his plane touched down at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, two policemen boarded and arrested Stradlin for interfering with the duties of a flight crew — a federal offense. But, as Guns N' Roses' then-publicist explained, "Relieving himself in the galley was just [Izzy's] way of expressing himself."
On July 10th, 2011, just hours before Coheed and Cambria were scheduled to take the stage at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts, the band's bassist, Michael Todd, was giving a solo performance at an area drugstore. Upon walking into a Walgreens, he showed a pharmacist a text on his phone indicating he had a bomb and would blow the place to bits unless he was given OxyContin. Todd left the store with six bottles of pain pills, then hailed a cab and returned to the venue, where police tracked him down and arrested him on charges of armed robbery and possession of a class B controlled substance. Needless to say, Todd did not join his band mates onstage that night — or, for that matter, any other night. Within hours of his arrest, Coheed and Cambria announced a replacement bassist for the remainder of the tour dates. Less than a month later, Todd was out of the band for good.
On the night of July 30th, 2001, a 25-year-old security guard named Joshua Keasler unwittingly became a star in Marilyn Manson's dope show. While working the front of the stage at Michigan's DTE Energy Music Theatre during a Manson performance, Keasler was grabbed from behind by the singer, who then proceeded to use the guard as his own personal stripper pole, spitting on him, wrapping his legs around his neck and rubbing his g-string clad crotch on Keasler's head. Manson was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery and criminal sexual conduct, the latter of which can carry a multi-year jail sentence. But a judge later reduced the sexual conduct charge — a fourth-degree felony — to one of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, reasoning that, at least in his estimation, Manson hadn't gained any sexual gratification from the act.