Musicians, no matter how popular, are always targets for hecklers, bottle throwers, stage crashers and the many other ways annoying concertgoers can try to ruin a show. To be fair, sometimes artists take it upon themselves to antagonize crowds, putting themselves in positions where they’re just asking for some trouble. Either way, these situations have led to some memorable – and at times, horrifying – incidents of artist-on-fan violence, from body slams to guitar-wielding beatdowns. These 10 videos will have you alternately laughing at the fools in the crowd to rooting for the fan to strike back.
Amy Winehouse Punches Fan at Glastonbury
Performing “Rehab” in the photo pit to close out her 2008 Glastonbury set, Winehouse elbowed and punched a man in the front row, later glaring at him as security ushered her back to the stage. James Gostelow, the victim, said it was a case of mistaken identity, as Winehouse thought he threw a hat at her beehive. “Not everyone can say they have been hit by Amy Winehouse,” he proudly told the BBC a few days later.
Henry Rollins Beats Up Fan for Stealing Mic
It’s all fun and games until Henry Rollins starts punching you in the face. The Black Flag singer used his microphone for what looked like a fun game of keepaway with a fan – until the fan actually got hold of the mic. That’s when Rollins let loose with a flurry of punches aimed at the man’s face, who seemingly continued to smile while facing a pummeling.
Pitbull Throws a Haymaker at Fan Who Made It Rain (0:57 mark)
During a 2009 show in Colorado, Pitbull kept getting interrupted by some genius fan who repeatedly threw money on the stage. After warning the man, the rapper decided to bring him onstage to publicly shame him and let the rest of the crowd know what was up – and that’s when things went wrong. “When I bring the muthafucka up on the stage, he throws a wad of money in my face,” Pit told MTV after the incident. “Natural instinct kicked in . . . As soon as he threw that money, it was on from there.” One haymaker later, the fan was removed, and Pit got back to rapping “Bojangles.”
Keith Richards Clubs Stage Crasher
While performing “Satisfaction” in 1981, Keef watched as a fan came running across the stage, two steps ahead of security. Without hesitation, Richards – who turned 38 that day – took off his guitar and hit the invader with a few perfectly timed strikes, then casually re-strapped the instrument and continued playing. In a 2004 interview, he said he was just watching Mick Jagger’s back, and that “a Telecaster makes a damn good club.” The kicker? Richards actually bailed the fan out that night, and claims the guy still owes him $200.
Ken Casey Beats Up Nazi (1:30 mark)
At one of Dropkick Murphys’ 2013 St. Patrick’s Day tour stops in New York, singer-bassist Ken Casey noticed a skinhead onstage doing the Nazi salute while the band covered AC/DC‘s “TNT.” Walking from one side of the stage to the other, Casey punched the fan, hit him with his bass and had him thrown out. “Nazis are not fucking welcome at a Dropkick Murphys show!” he said, returning to the microphone with a torn shirt, to huge applause.
Tool‘s Maynard James Keenan Body-Slams Fan, Keeps Singing (2:45 mark)
When a fan crashed the stage at a Tool show, frontman Maynard James Keenan made him pay, big time. The singer, who also happens to be an Army vet and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, tossed the fan onto the ground, put him in a chokehold, then lay on his back while continuing to sing “Pushit.”
A$AP Mob’s SXSW Brawl
On the final night of SXSW 2012, the A$AP Mob’s performance was derailed by a fan who allegedly stole one crew member’s do-rag. Rocky pleaded for calm, but the weary 3 a.m. crowd started throwing beer and other projectiles at the rappers. Finally, the Mob had enough, diving into the audience, fists flying. Security eventually broke up the scuffle, but not before a few fans were left bleeding. Cops shut the party down immediately.
Axl Rose Incites Riot in St. Louis
During a 1991 St. Louis show, the ever-volatile Axl complained to security about a fan taking pictures in the front row. When the guards didn’t do as he asked, Rose said “I’ll take it, goddamn it,” dove into the crowd, tackled the concertgoer and got the camera. Returing to the stage, Axl announced, “Thanks to the lame-ass security, I’m going home,” smashed his microphone and walked out. The crowd turned violent after, with over 60 injuries to fans and police – and $1 million worth of damage to the Riverport Amphitheater – during the ensuing chaos. Rose was charged with inciting the riot but never convicted, and later added “Fuck You, St. Louis” into the Use Your Illusion liner notes.
Akon Tosses Fan Off Stage
At a 2007 concert, a 15-year-old fan allegedly threw something at Akon, prompting the singer to have security bring the kid onstage. Once the fan, Anthony Smith, got up there, Akon pulled him onto his shoulders, then tossed him into the crowd, allegedly injuring another fan. Akon later said it was a planned stunt to promote his new album, but he pleaded guilty to harassment in 2008. His sentence? Sixty-five hours of community service and a $250 fine.
Screeching Weasel Frontman Punches Two Women
Singer Ben Foster was filmed punching two women at a 2011 SXSW gig, leading to widespread criticism from his punk-rock peers. The incident went down like this: a female fan threw ice at Foster, then hurled beer at him when he called her a whore. With no hesitation, he punched her in the face, just as the club owner – also a woman – jumped up to restrain him. He pushed her away, punching her in the back before security intervened. In response, the other four members of the band quit, and a planned Weasel festival was canceled.