Rock stars live such crazy lives, it’s easy to believe almost any story about them. In fact passing around wild tales is part of the pleasure of fandom. Many of these stories fall into the “tall tales” category, but here are 15 that have been verified. Once you read them, it’s kind of amazing that any rock star lived past the age of 30.
1. Tupac’s friends smoked his ashes.
Tupac Shakur has been the subject of many rumors since his 1996 murder, but this one at least has been corroborated by other people who were there. In an interview with Vlad TV, the members of the hip hop group The Outlawz, admitted to sprinkling Tupac’s remains into a joint and smoking it–calling it, appropriately, a “‘Pac Blunt.”
To be fair to The Outlawz, Tupac did actually say he wanted his friends to smoke his ashes in his song “Black Jesus.” However, during their interview they admitted that they weren’t sure whether the lyric was sincere or not.
So just to be clear, if you have any doubt about smoking human remains, maybe err on the side of not smoking human remains?
2. Ozzy Osbourne was happy to bite the heads off various animals.
You’ve probably heard the story of the time the Prince of Darkness bit off a bat’s head during a 1982 performance in Des Moines, Iowa. That incident was apparently an accident, but a year before he bit off the head off a dove–and this time it was on purpose.
Journalist Mick Wall recounted the story in his biography on Black Sabbath. Back in 1982, and Ozzy had just left Black Sabbath and was embarking on a solo career. However, his prospects as solo performer were very much in doubt, and he decided to attend the annual shareholder’s meeting at his label, Epic Records, to make nice.
Ozzy had planned to make a speech to the investors and then, per the suggestion of his wife Sharon, release three doves into the audience as a “gesture of peace.”
Unfortunately, Ozzy consumed half a bottle of brandy on the way to the meeting, and the whole idea of a stuffy corporate get-together bored out of his mind. When the doves were released, he grabbed one and chomped.
To which I can only hope the executives replied, “Um, sir, this is the Bank of England. The record studio office is down the hall.”
3. Michael Jackson wrote some of the music for Sonic 3.
OK, on the surface, that headline might not sound interesting. “Musician writes song” is the opposite of noteworthy. But this one is worth mentioning because it’s one of the few times a conspiracy theory was proven true.
Internet sleuths have been convinced for years that Michael Jackson made uncredited contributions to the popular video game’s sound track back in 1994. Their main piece of evidence was the marked similarity between three songs in the game–The Ice Cap Zone theme, the end-credits music and the Carnival Night Zone theme–and three Michael Jackson songs–“Stranger in Moscow,” “Smooth Criminal,” and “Who Is It,” respectively.
When most of us see a video like that, our response is something like, “Where’s your tinfoil hat, crazy?” But this time, the tinfoil hat crowd was onto something! In 2016, the game’s composers finally admitted that, yes, the MJ provided the sounds. He was a fan of the Sonic franchise and wanted to make an uncredited contribution.
Unfortunately for the King of Pop’s, his desire for anonymity was no match for the Internet’s powers of obsession.
4. Mick Fleetwood snorted 7 miles of cocaine.
No, not all at once. That would be a lot, even for a 70’s rock legend.
The “7 miles of cocaine” figure comes from drummer Mick Fleetwood’s 2015 autobiography Play On. During a recording session, the members of the band along with a sound engineer were trying to figure out how much cocaine Mick had snorted in his life. Working on a basis of an eighth of an ounce a day for 20 years, they realized that if you laid out all that cocaine in a single line, it would stretch seven miles long.
When reached for comment, Tony Montana said “Whoa dude, slow down,”
5. One Beach Boys’ song was written by Charles Manson
The Beach Boys were known for pleasant, popular bubblegum pop that’s stood the test of time. Charles Manson was a cult leader and serial killer who thought he was Jesus. While it might seem like the Beach Boys and ol’ Charlie are diametrically opposed to each other, they did in fact collaborate briefly in the 1960’s.
By the time he was 32 Manson had already been in prison multiple times, and had begun to attract a following of “family members” who would eventually carry out his murders. In 1968, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a musician. To be sure, Manson was NOT a musical talent, even if we’re being generous. He was a lifelong violent criminal who picked up the guitar in prison, and only pursued a musical career to further his megalomaniacal ambitions. (As opposed to actual rock stars, who are always well-adjusted and have no ego issues whatsoever.)
Nevertheless, what Manson lacked in talent he made up for in persistence and/or a total lack of human decency. He eventually wormed his way into the LA music scene and became acquaintances with various rockers, including Beach Boys’ drummer Dennis Wilson. Wilson liked one of Manson’s songs, “Cease to Exist,” (of course that’s what a rock song by Charles Manson would be called), and convinced the other Beach Boys to try it out.
This may have had something to do with the fact that Manson and his family Wilson’s house guests at the time. And by “house guests,” I mean, “They all showed up one day and announced, ‘We live here now.'”
That’s SO Manson.
6. Van Halen concert rider banned brown M&M’s from their dressing room.
This is one of those stories that used to be passed around to make fun of rock stars for being spoiled and crazy. Who else but a total brat would stipulate in their contract that one color of one candy couldn’t appear in their dressing room? And what did they have against brown M&M’s? It turns out the whole thing is a lot more logical than it sounds.
In his autobiography, David Lee Roth decided to put the brown M&M’s thing to bed once and for all. Back in 1982, a Van Halen concert was an event on a scale the music industry hadn’t seen before:
“Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through.”
With that much gear, all kinds of things could go wrong, and the consequences could be deadly. The brown M&M’s rule was designed to see how much attention the venue had paid to their demands. If the band showed up to a venue, and there were brown M&M’s in their candy bowl, they knew the venue hadn’t read the rider closely enough.
Basically, it was a reading comprehension test!
7. Van Morrison wrote and recorded 31 new songs in one day.
Coming up with 31 new songs in a day sounds like a superhuman feat, the kind of thing only a supercomputer could do, if you also gave it a lot of bath salts. (I don’t know how computers work.) So Van Morrison sounds like a living deity…until you hear the specifics.
In 1967, Morrison signed with Epic Records, but he wasn’t happy with the way the company did business, and he wanted out. Problem was, his contract stated he still owed the company 31 songs by the end of the year. But Morrison also noticed that nowhere did the contract say the songs had to be good.
So he booked a recording studio and farted out the first 31 tunes that popped into his head. One of them is literally called “Here Comes Dumb George,” and on the track he just strums his guitar and says “Here Comes Dumb George” over and over again. Other songs from that less-than-stellar day had names like “Ringworm,” “Want a Danish?” and “Aw Crap, My Foot Fell Asleep.”
OK, I did make up that last one, but the others are completely true.
8. Axl Rose recorded himself having sex on “Rocket Queen.”
The members of Guns ‘N’ Roses led lifestyles that made the Roman emperor Caligula look like a boy scout, so it’s probably no surprise to hear that Axl actually had sex on their debut album, Appetite for Destruction. The sounds appear on the final track, “Rocket Queen,” as confirmed by the band’s sound engineer at the time, Steve Thompson.
As the story goes, Axl was in the studio and just suddenly decided he wanted to record his sex noises for the album. The reason was because, I can only assume, Rose had done so much blow he thought he was the living reincarnation of the Egyptian god Amun-ra. (I didn’t look up the real reason, but it couldn’t have been far off.) The only nearby willing partner Axl could find was drummer Steve Adler’s 19-year-old girlfriend, Adriana Smith.
I, for one, am shocked that someone like Axl Rose had so little respect for a concept like “monogamy!”
9. Ozzy Osbourne snorted ants.
Imagine snorting SO MUCH cocaine that you get bored and decide to try snorting non-drugs just for fun. Now you know what it was like to be Ozzy Osbourne. (And Mick Fleetwood, probably.)
This incident, which has been retold in multiple books, occurred during the infamous 1984 Ozzy Osbourne/Motley Crue tour. Ozzy and Crue frontman Nikki Six were engaged in your classic old fashioned “snort off,” seeing how much coke they could both do in one session. Ozzy, needing a way to one-up Nikki’s prodigious cocaine-doing abilities, spotted some ants. And the rest, as they say, went right the hell up Ozzy’s nose.
10. Gram Parson’s body was stolen.
We began with a weird story about human remains, and because time is a flat circle, we must end with one.
As reported in Rolling Stone, in 1973 Parsons journeyed to Joshua Tree after recording his second album, Grievous Angel. His plan was to spend a few days unwinding and getting high, but he tragically overdoses. His body was to be flown to his native New Orleans for burial, but along the way, it went missing.
The body snatcher was Parson’s friend and producer Phil Kaufman, who was fulfilling a pact he made with Parsons to cremate the rock star at Cap Rock in Joshua Tree. Kaufman successfully torched Parsons’s coffin with a couple gallons of gasoline, but the cops showed up and he was eventually fined $750 for the incident.
So the next time you think your relationship with your best friend is strong, ask yourself if you’d burn their body in the desert for them. Because that’s real friendship.