16. Axl Rose incited numerous riots and spent $13 million and 15 years recording a dreadful album
Although he has done his fair share of drugs, and much of his strange behavior can be attributed to an alcohol problem, Axl is chiefly on this list for his diva-like personality. Axl frequently turns up late to Guns’n’Roses shows, to the fury of his long-suffering fans, for spurious reasons, including once because he was leisurely finishing a roast dinner. Over the years, Axl’s poor timekeeping has frequently kept fans waiting several hours, and even when he finally makes an appearance there is no guarantee that he will play more than a few songs. It depends on what mood he’s in.
Axl certainly likes doing things his own way. In the early 1990s, he killed a moth with a shotgun instead of a swatter like a normal person. He has been arrested numerous times after reacting badly to everything from having his baggage checked at airports and objecting to having his photo taken at concerts. In 1993, Guns’n’Roses set about recording Chinese Democracy. $13 million and 15 years (during which the other members of Guns’n’Roses were either fired or quit because of Axl’s erratic behavior) later, the prize turkey that is Chinese Democracy was finally released to a changed and underwhelmed world.
17. Dave Davies’s temper got The Kinks banned from America
Dave Davies found fame in his late teens as the lead guitarist of The Kinks, the English band who are sometimes credited with inventing heavy metal (on the song, ‘You Really Got Me’). Despite their great success, The Kinks were a wildly dysfunctional band, with Davies constantly fighting his older brother, Ray, the band’s lead singer. Where Ray responded to fame by settling down with his childhood sweetheart, Dave, who had been expelled from school at the age of 15 for being caught having underage sex, responded by racking up a significant drug habit and a litany of sexual conquests.
Dave was extremely volatile. On stage in 1965, he started a fight with the band’s drummer, Mick Avory, who responded by knocking the cocky guitarist out with a cymbal stand. Such common incidents, and brawling with staff from the Dick Clark show, got The Kinks banned from America for four years and prevented them achieving global stardom. Ray was no shrinking violet, either, and once sprinted 6 miles across London to punch his agent. Dave and Ray still hate each other: whilst Dave recovered from a major stroke at Ray’s house in 2004, they argued so much that Dave left.
Courtney Love can lay claim to the title of ‘most controversial woman in rock’. From her troubled teenage years as a drug user and stripper, she rose to mega-stardom as Kurt Cobain’s wife and lead singer of the band Hole. Hole concerts were chaotic and peppered with inebriated rants, Love flashing the audience, and fighting. She first used heroin at Charlie Sheen’s house in the early 1990s, and her addiction was so bad that she continued to shoot up during her pregnancy. Owing to her erratic persona, and no small amount of jealousy, conspiracy theorists have accused her of murdering Cobain.
Love has been arrested numerous times. Long-haul flights, in particular, seem to bring out the worst in her. She was arrested for intimidating stewards in 1995 after refusing to take her feet off the window. In 2003, her violent confrontation with a stewardess grounded a plane until she was arrested. The same year, she was arrested outside her manager’s house after breaking windows and threatening to burn it down. Sadly, her life is still a battle against addiction. In a restraining order filed in 2009, her daughter alleged that Love existed on ‘Xanax, Adderall, Sonata and Abilify, sugar, and cigarettes’.
19. Rick James spent $7,000 a week on cocaine, and kidnapped two women
Rick James slapped his bass to funk stardom in the 1970s, but his love of music was in constant competition with his other great loves: drugs and sex. He developed early in both respects, losing his virginity at 9 and taking heroin and marijuana in his mid-teens. These two passions landed him in legal difficulties, which for a long time prevented him from reaching the heights of his hated rivals, George Clinton and Prince. But when his star finally did rise, so too did his use of cocaine and the number of broken hearts he left in his strutting wake.
Throughout the 1980s, James covered the windows of his Beverley Hills mansion with tinfoil to smoke crack in peace. Over a 5-year period, James spent $7, 000-a-week on cocaine. His increasing dependency resulted in some harrowing and strange incidents. In 1991, he and his future wife were arrested for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman during a particularly heavy cocaine binge. Whilst on bail for the crime, the pair kidnapped and beat another woman for 20 hours. James was convicted of both kidnappings and spent 2 years in Folsom Prison. He died in 2004, obviously with cocaine in his blood.
20. GG Allin ate his own feces and attacked his fans
Rick James certainly took things way too far, but in this, he is surely outdone by GG Allin. Born to religious parents, GG’s real name was actually Jesus Christ Allin, because his father was convinced that the boy was the son of God. Instead, he grew up to be the most disgusting and mentally disturbed rock star in history. Allin’s concerts with his bands, the Texas Nazis and the Murder Junkies, usually involved him stripping naked, defecating, then smearing himself with (or eating) his own feculence and attacking the audience. He also cut himself, shat himself on stage and inserted things into his rectum.
You will not be surprised to hear that Allin was arrested 52 times, for his antics both on and off stage, and suffered from a serious addiction to heroin and alcohol. After numerous threats to commit suicide on stage, Allin finally died in 1993. That day, he had been chased from his final concert, naked and covered with blood and feces, through the streets of Manhattan, before attending a party where he overdosed on heroin. Allin called himself ‘the last true rock and roller’, but we are surely all relieved that no one has since tried to take his crown.
Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources: