Rock and roll is filled with stories of disgusting depravity, debauchery, and decadence…that that’s part of the reason why we love it! Sure it’s not very P.C., but it is very D.G.A.F., and we respect that. Tales of rock rebels have been passed down for as myths for generations. They may seem like urban legends, but the unbelievable part is that most of them are true! Read on to see our picks for the most notorious bad-boy party animals in modern music history -and the antics that earned them their title. Whatever you do, DON’T try any of this at home…
15. Dave Navarro
We imagine it has to be pretty hard to get kicked out of an iconic party-place like the Playboy Mansion, but the Jane’s Addiction front-man managed to get himself banned! According to his book Don’t Try This At Home, Dave was paid a visit to the “orgy room” with three female companions. He decided to kick it up a notch by shooting up in the middle of the proceedings, and then began attempting to use to syringe to write on the wall with his own blood (ewwwwwwwww).
“The mansion has always been somehow holy to me, and I began to feel weird,” he wrote, “All my life I’d wondered what it was like and here I was at 30 squirting blood on the walls with 3 naked girls at my feet. So I cleaned it off. But it was too late. They had the whole thing on video. When we left the room, several security guards escorted me out if the mansion and asked me never to return. I wonder what they did with the video.”
Thankfully, by now Dave has kicked the junk and moved on to hanging out in much more subdued ways; like literally suspending his body from meat hooks lodged in his flesh. To each his own, brother. Getting the boot from Hef’s House is definitely enough to qualify for the lower regions of our list, but we’re just getting started…
14. and 13. David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar of Van Halen
Sometimes it’s hard to separate work from pleasure, but the guys of Van Halen took it to another level by putting “sex tents” up on the stage while they performed. Sammy Hagar admitted to their existence, but claims that he wasn’t the one who thought of it! “Honestly, I think it was the production team that built our stages. I think they just thought it was part of the deal. They were like, ’Well, this is Van Halen. The guys must want sex tents, right?’ Here’s to not even waiting for the show’s over to start the after-party!
And of course, let’s not forget Diamond Dave’s “Bonus Program.” During the band’s 1979 tour, Lee Roth gave a stack of backstage passes to his roadies. According to Spin Magazine’s “100 Sleaziest Moments Of Rock, “the roadie who gives out the pass pinned to the tube top on the floor of Diamond Dave’s hotel-room floor is given $100 and a commendation at the next pre-show dinner.”
The ex-Guns N’ Roses guitarist took the term “party animal” literally when he showed up at a luxury hotel with a mountain lion! Slash bought the creature, whom he named “Curtis,” and took him along for a world tour. But things took a turn for the worse when Curtis escaped from his cage and ran rampant around the bathroom of his suite!
Speaking of bathrooms, he once became convinced that his shower was being invaded by malicious alien beings from the movie Predator, “but a fraction of the size and translucent blue-gray; they were wiry and muscular, with the same pointed heads and rubbery dreadlocks.” Terrified, he punched his way out of the glass shower stall and ran naked down the streets of Arizona. Oof.
So many women threw themselves at Slash that he had to rent out several hotel rooms to keep everybody happy while they waited for him to cycle through. This sounds pretty considerate, but there was also apparently a time when he wandered around his house armed with multiple guns, shooting holes in the ceiling while a lady friend (probably didn’t) sleep upstairs!
The top-hatted one also rolled with a young Charlie Sheen, and Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx suffered a near-fatal heroin OD in his hotel room. Slash himself had a close call by the early 2000s, when years of drink and drugs took such a toll that he was apparently given between six days and six weeks to live. Thankfully, the insertion of a pacemaker has kept him rockin’.
11. and 10. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith
The so-called Toxic Twins of rock had a shared credo during their arena-filling heyday: “We believed anything worth doing was worth overdoing.” And that especially held true for partying and living the classic rock ’n’ roll lifestyle filled with $100,000 hotel bills, trashed suites, groupies and, of course, “substances.” While working on the followup to their multi-platinum smash Rocks in 1976, the band renovated a convent on a 100-acre spread in upstate New York, where they shot guns in the attic, crashed brand-new sports cars, and generally did a LOT of drugs.
Joe Perry claims to have used them as an aide to write music. “I started studying the folklore of opium as a sacrament and really got into it,” he writes in his memoir Walk This Way. “It helped me concentrate on my work and became a good writing tool for me at the time … before it turned into this f–king monster.” They hit an extremely dark phase by the early ’80s, with Tyler and Perry deep in the throes of addiction. “Jerry Garcia says that we were the druggiest bunch of guys the Grateful Dead ever saw,” Tyler said years later to Rolling Stone. “They were worried about us, so that gives you some idea of how f–ked up and crazy we were.”
9. and 8. Jimmy Page and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin
All of Led Zep were pretty wild, but Pagey and Bonzo pretty much wrote the rules on quintessential rebellious rock-star behavior and excess, outlined in Steven Davis’ classic book, Hammer of the Gods. They were among the first bands to buy their own jet -nicknamed the Starship- which they tricked out with a bar, electric organ, and huge bedroom fit for entertaining…While on the ground they stayed at the most expensive hotels in town and trashed their suites, but encouraged others to get in on the fun. When a hotel employee told band’s manager Peter Grant that he’s always wanted to throw a television set off the roof, Grant handed him a wad of bills and replied “Here, have one on me.” Women lined up outside their rooms to catch a glimpse (or more) of their heroes.
Page in particular was known for having something of a scandalous sex life (to put it mildly). He was rumored to travel with a suitcase full of whips, and apparently had to be chained to his toilet on more than one occasion to “calm down.” John Bonham, dressed as a waiter, once wheeled Page -naked and covered in whipped cream- into a crowded room of fans, which certainly resulted in even more wildness. On their 1978 tour Page requested a motorcycle to race around the hotel hallways, and a 10-foot python…for reasons that remain unknown, and it’s probably best to leave it that way.
The stories are endless, but the proverbial cherry on the debauchery sundae is The Mud Shark Incident, which is among the most repeated (and controversial) stories in all rock ’n’ roll lore. Never heard it? Errr, just read about it here…While staying at the same hotel several years later, the band hid 30 dead mudsharks around their rooms. Needless to say, they were promptly banned after that.
7.-4. Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Vince Neil and Mick Mars of Motley Crue
“Whiskey and porn stars, hot reds and car crashes, black leather and high heels, overdoses and death. This is the life of Mötley Crüe, the heaviest drinking, hardest fighting, most oversexed and arrogant band in the world. Their unbelievable exploits are the stuff of rock ’n’ roll legend.” Thus begins Motely Crue: The Dirt, a 448-page “confession” of their epic tales. They label themselves as the “most notorious band,” and it’s hard to argue: They’ve dated porn stars, made sex tapes, thrown televisions out hotel windows, donned makeup and heals, injected tequila directly into the veins…and that’s just off the top of our heads.
In the early days, the group would invite the whole crowd back to their home base just off of Sunset Boulevard to keep the party going. This escalated as the band gained fame, with Vince Neil building a personal Playboy Mansion, complete with stripper polls, bars, pools, drug dealers and outdoor mud-wrestling. As years progressed they began to get increasingly out of hand, to the point where managers literally chained Tommy Lee to his hotel-room bed in an effort to keep him from going out. It was so bad that even Aerosmith contacted the group and urged them to get clean.
Things got serious when Nikki Sixx OD’d in fellow wildman Slash’s hotel room. His heart stopped for two minutes and he was actually declared legally dead! Thankfully, paramedics arrived in the nick of time and revived him with two shots of adrenaline to the heart (inspiring the song “Kickstart My Heart”). In fact, one of the EMTs happened to be a Motley Crue fan. “Apparently, the paramedic took one look at me and said, ’No one’s gonna die in my ambulance,'” Sixx said later in his book, The Heroin Diaries: A Year In The Life Of A Shattered Rock Star.
Despite the scary situation, Sixx was not dissuaded from his hard living. When he awoke in the hospital, he ripped off the IVs and tubes and sprinted from his bed wearing nothing but his leather pants. Two women found him in the parking lot and gave him a lift to his house, where he proceeded to shoot up MORE heroin in his bathroom and pass out. By his own admission he overdosed about half a dozen times before he made a successful trip to rehab, including a time in London when he was thrown out into a garbage dumpster and left for dead!
Of course, we cannot forget the shenanigans they got up to while partying with…
The “Prince of F–king Darkness” has a well documented wild-side that extends far back into his days with Black Sabbath. He added his own unique twist to the hotel-trashing cliche by flinging bits of a dead shark around the room (a tribute to Led Zep?), and was once so out of it during a press conference that he was unable to process words or speak, and his bandmates jokingly moved him like a puppet!
After getting kicked out of the group for -you guessed it- being too out of control, he entered into his most legendary phase of craziness, biting a head off of a dove in front of record execs, (apparently) biting a head off of a bat during a concert, and drunkenly urinating on the Alamo while dressed in his wife’s clothing. This last incident caused an uproar, resulting in an arrest and a decade-long ban from San Antonio.
But perhaps his most extreme moments came during a tour with fellow party gods, Motley Crue. Osbourne and the Crue constantly tried to one-up each other to see who could be the most insane, and Ozzy was determined not to lose this gross-out showdown. After Nikki Sixx snorted the biggest line of cocaine that the group had ever seen, Ozzy bent down onto the sidewalk (once again in a sundress, according to legend) and snorted a line of ants (reportedly fire ants) off of the pavement. But he wasn’t done. He then began peeing on the sidewalk and…well, it just went downhill from there. “From that moment on. We knew there was always someone who was sicker and more disgusting than we were,” Sixx reflected.
2. Keith Richards
“It’s 30 years since I gave up the dope! Image is like a long shadow. Even when the sun goes down, you can see it.” So writes Keef in the opening of his long-awaited 2010 memoir Life, a truly incredible document from a man who crammed so much living into his ’60s and ’70s heyday that he should probably be dead at least a dozen times over. There’s a rumor that the only reason he’s alive is that he had his blood entirely replaced at a Swiss clinic. It’s not true, but it kind of deserves to be. He may be clean now, but he went HAM back in the day. Here are just a few highlights…
-When cops raided a party at his country estate in 1967, Richards’ was apparently tripping so hard on LSD that he mistook them for uniformed dwarfs and welcomed them in with hugs for all. The resulting bust very nearly put him behind bars.
-The Playboy Mansion has clearly seen its share of debauchery (and Dave Navarros), but Keith went above and beyond when he almost burnt it to the ground during a party in the mid ’70s! He and sax player Bobby Keys had retired to the restroom to “play smörgåsbord” with some drugs, and somehow managed to start a fire. When staff broke down the door to put out the blaze, a totally oblivious Richards was enraged, fuming, “How dare you burst in on our private affair?”
-He purchased a S3 Continental Flying Spur, one of only 86 ever made, specially outfitted with secret panels to conceal his stash. He used the vehicle to go on a multi-day acid-tinged road trip with John Lennon, a journey which is “almost a total blank” to the man himself.
-Although it was pioneered by The Who’s Keith Moon (more on him later), Richards’ made important contributions to the art of dropping televisions from hotel rooms. Thankfully a camera crew, filming the Rolling Stones’ unreleased documentary C–ksucker Blues, caught the master at work in 1972. Watch the grace and skill as he releases a set from the 11th floor balcony at LA’s notorious party hotel, the Continental Hyatt House (A.K.A. “the Riot House”).
1. Keith Moon
The patented exploding drummer literally did it ALL -even things you could never have possibly imagined. He maybe never drove a Lincoln into a Holiday Inn swimming pool, but he definitely DID drive his Rolls Royce into a pond. He bought a hovercraft, stalling it out on railroad tracks. He blew up his drum kit on national television, passed out in the middle of an arena gig, and terrorized the population by making hilarious fake announcements from the PA system installed in his car. His penchant for practical jokes, elaborate costumes and getting naked is matched only by his superhuman intake of drugs and alcohol. But that wasn’t what fueled his antics…he would have done it all, anyway.
Of course, he also created hotel trashing as we know it, sometimes employing cherry bombs to pulverize toilets. The authors of Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of The WHO estimate his hotel plumbing bill at around $500,000! Other times he wrecked rooms the old fashioned way: by hand. Pete Townshend loves to tell of the time that the band were driving to the airport and Keith insisted they return to the hotel, saying “I forgot something!” Then he ran back to his room, grabbed the television and threw it out the window into the swimming pool. “I nearly forgot!” he said, climbing back into their limo.
There’s too much mayhem to begin to get into here. For much more, check out Tony Fletcher’s excellent book, Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon. Just watch this video for a taste. He’s the original.
Runner Up: Ace Frehley of KISS
We can’t forget the Spaceman! Watch this classic clip of Ace tearing up the The Tomorrow Show in 1979.
[Photo: Getty Images]