Being a rock’n’roll star can be a dangerous business as these eye-wateringly painful accidents prove
During Nirvana’s 1992 TV performance of ‘Lithium’ on MTV (studio bosses had unsurprisingly vetoed ‘Rape Me’, Kurt Cobain’s first choice) Krist Novoselic engaged in some on-stage showmanship, throwing his bass guitar into the air. The plan, presumably, was to catch it — instead it landed on his head, and cracked it open in front of the watching world. The band finished the song, but he had to be taken to hospital.
A case of lightning striking twice, well injury at least. Just one week after a flare from the crowd set Frank Zappa’s stage alight, (he luckily escaped the flames that soon engulfed the area) a fan rushed onto the stage and pushed him into the concrete pit. Zappa nearly died — sustaining a crushed larynx, fractures and head trauma. The fan believed Zappa had been eyeing his girlfriend, while Zappa, unsurprisingly, became convinced that someone was out to kill him.
In fact, fans appear to pose the greatest risk to musicians (aside from drugs and on-stage showboating), and some just bizarre commitments. In 1973, during a Lou Reed show in Buffalo, New York, a fan became so angry he — wait for it — jumped on stage and bit the former Velvet Underground star’s behind. Talk about a pain in the…
In 2008, Noel Gallagher ended up in hospital with broken ribs after a fan ran on stage and tried to hug him — knocking him into an amp. “I feel like I’ve done a couple of rounds with Ricky Hatton,” Gallagher quipped later, rather sportingly.
Keith Moon, the firebrand Who drummer, was behind perhaps the most infamous and mythologised injury in rock’n’roll history. Demonstrating his oft-reported penchant for blowing up things, the musician added explosive to his drum kit to give ‘My Generation’ extra oomph at its anarchic conclusion, live on TV. Moon had packed it too full and the explosion was deafening — quite literally: Pete Townshend believes it’s the cause of his partial deafness and tinnitus.
A more persistent problem, for Johnny Greenwood, of Radiohead, has been repetitive strain injury, due, apparently, to his unusual style of playing the guitar. The Radiohead virtuoso usually sports a wrist splint at gigs.
Another danger to musicians appears to be other musicians, whether that’s Pete Doherty headbutting Johnny Borrell (As Pete put it: “Johnny’s going, ‘You ****, I’ve been boxing on the Holloway Road.’ I just went, ‘Have some of this…’ and put one on him”), or, more infamously, when Jack White beat up Jason Stollsteimer of The Von Bondies at an album launch party. No one still knows what over.
One more ‘Who’ injury… this time Pete Townshend, with another signature move, his famous ‘windmill’ — something the guitarist had been doing since day dot. However, at 1989 gig, during ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, he messed it up and slashed open his hand with the strings — right between his fingers. Ouch.
Members of your own band
Mark E Smith may well be the most belligerent man in rock’n’roll, whose fights, spats and general terrible behaviour are well documented. He infamously attacked his own band on stage in the 90s. However, the best-known incident is perhaps when Marc Riley, now a 6Music DJ, then the bassist in The Fall, gave Smith a black eye. The pair appeared on television the next day — Smith unusually subdued. Riley left the band shortly after.
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