Famous musicians who were almost murdered

Being a famous musician is a pretty tough gig. Sure, there are plenty of perks, like fame and fortune, but you've got to put in some pretty long hours if you want to succeed. Plus, there's always the chance you could get shot, knifed, or tortured to death. Because when you reach the peak of musical perfection, there's always some lunatic out there who wants to drag you back down ... and bury you six feet under.

Justin Bieber

In November 2016, Justin Bieber made headlines after punching an overzealous fan. Many criticized the pop star for his actions, but maybe we should all be a little more understanding. After all, the guy is constantly mobbed by groping groupies, and sometimes, these diehard fans want a lot more than an autograph.

Take Dana Martin, for example, a psycho who puts Annie Wilkes to shame. A rapist and murderer who was already serving two life sentences, Martin was a hardcore Belieber. The man wrote several letters to the Canadian superstar, and even got a Bieber tattoo on his leg while in prison. Obviously, Bieber never responded to the freaky fan mail, which made Martin a tad angry. He was also upset Bieber was turning into a bad boy, and it didn't help that Martin wanted his 15 minutes of fame.

Determined to teach Bieber a lesson, Martin convinced his cellmate, Mark Staake, to castrate and kill the singer in exchange for $50,000, a Ferrari, and a farm once owned by Michael J. Fox. (Staake was a few tracks short of a whole album.) On top of that, Martin promised $5,000 for each of Bieber's cajones. So when Staake was released from his New Mexico prison, he teamed up with his nephew, Tanner Ruane, and the duo struck out for New York.

But before they reached Bieber, Martin wanted his hitmen to castrate and kill the two witnesses who'd helped put him behind bars. Fortunately, the killers made a wrong turn along the way and ended up in Canada, where Staake was arrested for violating his parole. And after officials found a sketch of Bieber—plus some scary-looking hedge clippers—in Staake's car, the whole plot fell apart pretty quickly. Dana Martin would eventually plead guilty to two counts of attempted murder, and Bieber would live to sing another day, private parts intact.

50 Cent

If you want to become a hip-hop artist, you should probably buy a Kevlar vest. Ghostface Killah was shot in the neck and arm. The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered in a drive-by shooting. Tupac Shakur was shot multiple times in 1994 before he was killed in 1996. It seems like rapping is a dangerous business, a tragic fact that 50 Cent found out the hard way.

In 2000, while struggling to hit the big times, 50 Cent was sitting in a car outside his grandmother's house in Queens, when an assassin walked up to the vehicle and unloaded his gun. Nine bullets tore into the rapper's body, slamming into his leg, hip, arm, right hand, chest, and the left side of his face. After emptying his clip, the gunman managed to escape, and while he was never arrested, many suspect the attacker was Darryl Baum, a man who worked as Mike Tyson's bodyguard. Before Baum could be brought to justice, however, he was shot down, possibly in retaliation for going after 50 Cent.

As for the rapper, it took six weeks before Fiddy could walk by himself and five months before he'd totally recovered. The attack also permanently altered his speech patterns, as a gunshot destroyed his mouth — in fact, a fragment of a bullet is still lodged in his tongue. As the singer explained to Vanity Fair, doctors didn't remove the bullet as it would've further damaged his nerves. But as Rolling Stone put it, "His lazy tongue and the hole in his jaw gave [50 Cent] a slur like no one in hip hop."

Or as 50 Cent himself put it, "Getting shot just totally fixed my instrument."

Bono and Jimmy Buffett

In 1996, Jimmy Buffett released a song called "Jamaica Mistaica," a bouncy little number telling the story of a guy who visits the tropical island and gets shot at by the police. Coming from the "Cheeseburger in Paradise" guy, this seems like a pretty unusual topic. But as it turns out, "Jamaica Mistaica" was inspired by a real-life incident that nearly left Buffett a Caribbean casualty.

Just a few months before releasing the song, Buffett was flying aboard an old World War II plane headed for Jamaica, hoping for a little rest and relaxation. However, the singer wasn't alone. In addition to Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, Buffett was hanging out with Irish superstar, Bono. The lead singer of U2 had also brought along his wife and two young kids, and everybody was planning on having a nice little holiday.

But unbeknownst to the musical tourists, Jamaica authorities had misidentified their craft as a drug smuggler's plane, so when it touched down, the cops opened fire. The trigger-happy gunmen shot around 100 bullets, forcing Bono and his family to dive for cover. "I felt as if we were in the middle of a James Bond movie," Bono later said, "only this was real." Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the chaos, and the Jamaican authorities later apologized.

But Bono didn't stick around long enough to hear anyone say they were sorry. When the gunfire stopped, the rocker and his family flew straight back to Florida, relieved to have escaped with their lives. This was the closest Bono ever came to getting killed by an angry mob, until that whole iTunes fiasco anyway.

Mick Jagger

The year 1969 was a crazy one for California. While there were some upbeat moments like Woodstock, the groovy vibe was ruined thanks to Charles Manson, the Zodiac Killer ... and the Rolling Stones. Despite their best intentions, the Stones painted everything black at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival, a concert that helped kill the hippie movement, as well as a few unfortunate music lovers.

Headlined by Mick Jagger and company, the Altamont Concert featured some of the biggest bands of the '60s, like Santana, Jefferson Airplane, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Unfortunately, the concert wasn't exactly peaceful, as the Stones had hired the Hells Angels to provide security. According to the story, the biker gang was given $500 in free beer to whack concertgoers with pool cues — by the end of the night, four people were dead, including 18-year-old Meredith Hunter. After getting roughed up by the Angels, Hunter pulled a gun, only to find himself on the wrong end of a biker's knife.

Captured on film, the stabbing was the death knell for the free-loving 1960s, and on top of that, it almost got Mick Jagger killed. Furious about how things had gone down, Jagger refused to ever use the Hells Angels for security again. This didn't sit well with the biker gang and, according to ex-FBI agent Mark Young, they decided to get some satisfaction by murdering the British rock star. Allegedly, the thugs planned on sailing out to Jagger's Long Island home, avoiding security by sneaking up from the ocean and creeping into his backyard. Things didn't pan out, as a storm capsized their boat, sending the Angels into the sea. So yeah, they probably should've stuck with the motorcycles.

George Harrison

We all know about Mark David Chapman murdering John Lennon, but Lennon wasn't the only Beatle faced with a truly dangerous fan.

December 30, 1999 was a bad day for George Harrison, thanks to a schizophrenic named Michael Abram who thought Harrison was a witch who had possessed poor Abram. Thinking God wanted him to kill Harrison, Abram invaded the guitarist's Oxfordshire mansion, armed with a knife and a stone sword he'd broken off a statue in George's garden. Fortunately, Harrison stepped out of his bedroom and saw Abram downstairs. Hoping to confuse the intruder, the singer began shouting "Hare Krishna," but the trick didn't work. Abram had his mind set on George, and he rushed up the stairs, ready to kill the pop star.

But despite his peace-loving ways, Harrison was no pushover — the Beatle tackled Abram, and as the two battled for the knife, George's wife, Olivia, smashed Abram over the head with a brass poker. Soon, all three were on the ground in a desperate fight for life. During the melee, Harrison was stabbed in the chest, and the Beatle later described how he could hear his lung deflate. But as he lay wounded, Olivia Harrison began swinging a table lamp at Abram, fending him off long enough for the police to arrive.

After his arrest, Abram spent a few months in a mental hospital before he was released in 2002. According to the most recent reports, Abram is now living in a hostel, with medication and psychiatric help, and hopes "to be an ordinary bloke."

Elvis Presley

As the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley was one of the most famous musicians to ever walk the Earth. Like any other royal figure, Elvis was constantly surrounded by bodyguards, so getting close to the King was incredibly difficult. But in 1971, Elvis found himself in a tricky situation involving a pistol-packing assassin named Vincent Damon Furnier. You probably know him better as Alice Cooper.

Cooper was hanging out with Liza Minelli, Chubby Checker, and Linda Lovelace one evening when they were all notified that Elvis wanted to meet them. The group was ushered into the king's Vegas apartment — after a few pleasantries, Elvis invited Cooper into his kitchen. And that's when Elvis handed his new buddy a .38 caliber pistol.

Wanting to show off his martial arts prowess, Elvis ordered Cooper to point the gun straight at him. As the rocker trained the snub-nosed pistol at Presley, a little voice appeared in his head. According to Cooper, "For one brief moment, the mischievous little devil on my left shoulder whispered in my ear, 'Shoot him.'" As Cooper explained in his autobiography, if the Godfather of Shock Rock plugged the King of Rock and Roll, it would be the biggest story in music history ... and for a second, he actually considered pulling the trigger.

Fortunately, the good angel on Cooper's right shoulder won the day — moments later, Elvis had disarmed the rocker and put Cooper on the ground. As Elvis removed his foot from Cooper's throat, he continued chatting like nothing strange had just happened. Of course, Cooper was pretty freaked out, describing the whole evening as "weird." And if Alice Cooper thinks you're weird, well ...

Bob Marley

When Bob Marley said, "Every little thing is gonna' be alright," he wasn't being glib. As the world's most famous Jamaican, this singer-songwriter knew all about smiling through adversity. Despite the world's stereotypical image of Jamaica, this island nation has seen quite a bit of suffering over the decades. In fact, back in the '70s, the country was divided by a bloody political war, a crazy conflict that almost ended Marley's singing career for good.

In 1976, Jamaica was divided between two political parties: the liberal People's National Party (PNP) headed by Prime Minister Michael Manley, and the right-wing Jamaican Labor Party (JLP) led by Edward Seaga. Fearing Manley was a communist, the US government armed the JLP, which led to street battles between gangsters allied with both groups. The police also got involved, and soon, hundreds of people were dead.

At about this time, the PNP asked Bob Marley if he wanted to do a concert in Jamaica. They promised it wouldn't be a political event, but would rather be focused on uniting all of Jamaica. Marley agreed to perform, but immediately afterward, Prime Minister Manley moved the national elections to be held shortly after the concert, making it appear Marley was endorsing Manley by performing so close to election day in a PNP event.

This turn of events made someone—most likely JLP members—incredibly angry, and on December 3, 1976, at least three gunmen stormed Marley's home. They opened fire with machine guns, hitting the singer in the arm and wounding his wife and manager. While the assassins escaped, everyone survived the attack — two days later, Marley went on stage as scheduled. The reggae king performed for 90 minutes and even showed off his bandaged wounds, proving he was one tuff gong.

Victoria Beckham

As one of the most famous pop stars of the '90s, Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham has had quite a bit of spice in her life. But on top of all the glitz and glamor, this British superstar has been the victim of multiple criminal schemes. For starters, she's received all sorts of disturbing death threats, including altered photos depicting bloody wounds on both her and her child. Of course, that pales in comparison to the events of January 2000, when a group of thugs planned on kidnapping Posh and her eight-month-old son, Brooklyn. Fortunately, the Beckhams were saved in the nick of time, although the crooks managed to escape as well.

Just two years later, five more people were arrested for plotting to kidnap Beckham, although there's a bit of debate surrounding the story. As it turns out, the scheme was exposed after the News of the World paid a hefty sum to a convicted crook, who then ratted out the alleged kidnappers. Thanks to this revelation, the five people in question were released, which probably made Victoria Beckham more than a little anxious.

But perhaps the scariest incident occurred in March 2000. While rehearsing for a Spice Girls performance, Beckham was hustled to safety after a red dot suddenly appeared on her chest. Shortly afterward, a propped-open door was discovered, and it was theorized a sniper had been preparing to take a shot. It just goes to show, while many wannabe a celebrity, dealing with all these thugs just might be too much.

Bjork

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who love Bjork, and those who think she sounds like Bobcat Goldthwait. Ricardo Lopez definitely falls into the first group, being obsessed with the Icelandic star. He would create art in her honor, and detail in his diary about how he wanted to become Bjork's best friend. He also wrote about his suicidal and murderous thoughts, so he probably wasn't the best candidate for Bjork's BFF.

Of course, no deranged fantasy lasts forever, and in 1996, the 21-year-old Lopez was shocked to learn Bjork was in a relationship with the musician Goldie. As a racist, Lopez was incensed his beloved singer was dating a black man. Wanting to punish Bjork, he began working on a "deliciously sadistic plan" — like a true psycho, he videotaped 22 hours of his rantings and ravings. Originally, Lopez planned on making a bomb full of HIV-infected needles, but when that didn't work, he hollowed out a book and put an acid bomb inside its pages.

The plan was to mail the bomb from his Florida home to Bjork's London residence — on September 12, 1996, Lopez put his explosive package in the mail. Then — after painting his face with red, green, and black paint — Lopez shot himself on camera, as Bjork music played in the background. Authorities found his body days later and, after checking his diary and tapes, the cops went into Panic Mode. Thankfully, the bomb was stopped before it arrived at Bjork's doorstep.

Frank Zappa

According to Rolling Stone, Frank Zappa is the 22nd best guitarist of all time. The music mag also claimed Zappa was the 71st greatest artist, beating out the likes of Tupac Shakur and Hank Williams. But these bona fides don't matter when you're messing around with a jealous boyfriend, especially one who's a bit deranged.

It was December 1971, and Frank Zappa was having a rough month. While performing at Switzerland's Montreux Casino, some stupid decided to shoot off a flare gun, burning the place to the ground. (If that sounds familiar, it's because this event inspired Deep Purple's beginner's-guitar classic, "Smoke on the Water.") Just a few days later, Zappa was playing at London's Rainbow Theatre — as he wowed the audience with his guitar skills, a 24-year-old man charged the musician and pushed him off the stage.

The assailant was a guy named Trevor Charles Howell, and he was upset because his girlfriend had a crush on Zappa. Thanks to Howell, Zappa took a 15-foot-dive into a concrete orchestra pit, a fall that fractured his ankle and leg, broke a rib, paralyzed an arm, pulverized his larynx, and put a hole in his head. Luckily, Zappa survived, but he was stuck in a wheelchair for nearly a year. When he finally got out, one of his legs was shorter than the other, resulting in chronic back pain.

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, the smashed-up larynx possibly affected Zappa's singing voice, making it much deeper. The whole incident definitely encouraged the singer to keep a bodyguard by his side at all times. Seeing as how he never took another dive into an orchestra pit, the bodyguard thing seems to have paid off.