Most Legendary Stories In Rock

The history of rock 'n' roll is one of great, timeless music, memories for millions of once-young people, and, of course, some absolutely outrageous rock star stories. Take a handful of young kids who've never had a serious job and give them legions of screaming fans, fawning groupies, and a few million bucks, and you're bound to run into some trouble.

There are so many insane stories that the bulk of them — from The Who drummer Keith Moon allegedly giving Led Zeppelin its name, per Rolling Stone, to beloved Metallica bassist Cliff Burton dying in a 1986 bus crash (via Ultimate Classic Rock) to Ace Frehley from KISS mistaking perfume for more booze (via Far Out Magazine) to GN'R's Slash sprinting naked through a hotel, per North Point Washington, to Pantera's Dimebag Darrell being tragically gunned down onstage (via Rolling Stone), and other stories of sex, drugs, and rock n' roll — didn't even make the cut. 

But the ones that made it are the wildest. From overdoses to car crashes to riots, pointed guns, and severed fingers, these are the most legendary stories in rock.

Van Halen forbids brown M&Ms backstage

It's always disappointing, but rarely all that surprising, when you find out your celebrity heroes are demanding, big-headed divas. This isn't a new phenomenon. Musicians have always had tour riders demands ranging from obnoxious to downright outrageous. Van Halen, for example, ordered the staff at each venue they played at to remove all the brown M&M candies from the bowl backstage. It sounds like either the pettiest request ever made or some kind of a prank. 

But according to The Wrap, there was a method to the madness in an effort to test that the promoter looked at the paperwork. Refuting reports that the band made impossible or seemingly pointless demands so they'd have a justification to wreck the place after the concert, frontman David Lee Roth wrote, in his 1998 memoir, "Crazy From The Heat," "The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. ... If I saw a brown M&M in that bowl, well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you're going to arrive at a technical error. They didn't read the contract. Guaranteed you'd run into a problem."

Tony Iommi loses his fingertips ... and invents metal

It's appropriate that the heavy, gloomy sound associated with classic metal had origins in pain and suffering. Tony Iommi, now the legendary guitarist for heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath, was once a sheetmetal worker at a factory in England. You have to start somewhere, right? Well unfortunately, his start was almost his end. 

As he told Loudwire, "... they put me on this giant, huge press — a guillotine-type press. I don't know what happened, I must have pushed my hand in. Bang! It came down. It just took the ends off [my fingers]. I actually pulled them off."

He went on to explain that he was told he would never play guitar again. "I wouldn't accept that there wasn't some way around it, that I couldn't be able to play," he said.

Luckily, the doctors were wrong. And thank goodness they were. What happened next changed music forever. Iommi kept playing guitar but had to fashion his own prosthetic fingertips and, according to Vintage News, use lighter, looser strings. This made it slightly less painful to play and also produced his now iconic, widely imitated, deeper, darker tone that's associated with heavy metal. The rest is history.

Nikki Sixx dies of an overdose and survives

Mötley Crüe's bassist, founding member, and chief songwriter Nikki Sixx died of a heroin overdose on December 23, 1987. Luckily, he survived.

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Sixx passed out after a particularly strong heroin hit while partying with Ratt's Robbin Crosby and Slash and Steven Adler of Guns N' Roses (all fellow junkies) in Hollywood. It wasn't like other close calls. He was blue in the face and had to be rushed to the hospital. According to legend, he actually briefly died en route. Fortunately, paramedics in the ambulance rammed adrenaline into his heart, saving his life. But news of his "death" had already gotten out. Vince Neil, Mötley Crüe's singer, reported crying when he heard the news. "Maybe deep down I knew it was going to happen one day," he said, according to Ultimate Classic Rock, "but it still tore me to pieces because I loved Nikki -– even though he was an arrogant selfish s***. I cried. And I never used to cry then."

It's worth noting that GN'R drummer Adler claims he helped revive Sixx before paramedics arrived, as per Blabbermouth. 

Axl Rose records himself having sex for a song

Not all the tracks on "Appetite for Destruction" — Guns N' Roses 1987 debut (and the biggest debut ever made, according to WRAT) — came easily to the infamous, hard-partying Hollywood quintet. The last song on the record, titled "Rocket Queen," had a great hook, an unforgettable coda and outro, and an earworm of a chorus. Frontman Axl Rose came up with an interesting idea to fill out the aural space: He would record himself having sex with drummer Steven Adler's girlfriend, Adrianna Smith, right in the studio. 

She told Mirror the story. "We cleared everyone out of the studio. Dimly lit, there were cushions in the booth, so no one could really see in. There were two guys in one booth and we were in another and I think they got a couple hours of recording of us having sex. It wasn't really romantic, passionate or hot. It was kinda contrived, but they got some good stuff out of it. I don't know where those recordings have gone and I don't have a copy of them."

At least a few seconds of the recordings can be found on the track itself. 

Ozzy bites the head off a bat

Any discussion of rock 'n' roll's most notorious partiers must include Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne. Stories about the Prince of Darkness' drug abuse and offstage antics have become the stuff of absolute legend. But what's arguably the most famous incident happened onstage, and it wasn't even on purpose.

The Washington Post says that on January 20, 1982, during a concert in Iowa, the rocker bit the head of a bat in front of the entire audience. Why? According to the Post, rumors that he'd bitten the heads off two live doves during ill-fated meetings with record executives had been circulating among fans for months. One such fan, 17-year-old Mark Neal, decided to bring a bat to the show to see if Osbourne would repeat the feat. He tossed it in front of bassist Rudy Sarzo, who then pointed it out to Osbourne.

In his memoir, "I Am Ozzy," Osbourne writes (via the Post), "Immediately, though, something felt wrong. Very wrong. For a start, my mouth was instantly full of this warm, gloopy liquid, with the worst aftertaste you could ever imagine. I could feel it staining my teeth and running down my chin. Then the head in my mouth twitched . . . I didn't just go and eat a . . . bat, did I?"

He certainly did. You shouldn't try this at home, kids. But if you're going to, practice on this plush toy Osbourne released to commemorate the incident (via Kerrang).

Eddie Van Halen almost shoots Fred Durst

According to Andrew Bennett's "Eruption in the Canyon: 212 Days and Nights with the Genius of Eddie Van Halen," the legendary Van Halen guitar hero once played music with nu metal headbangers Limp Bizkit. Bennett later quoted Van Halen as describing himself as a "scholar amongst kindergartners." Even Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst himself joked about the disparity in respect the two bands enjoyed, saying, "The greatest guitar player ever plays with the worst band ever."

The session didn't last long. Once people in the house started smoking pot, Van Halen abruptly walked out. Importantly, he left his guitar and amp behind. But the story is only just beginning. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Bennett claimed Van Halen owned an illegal, military-grade assault vehicle that he drove to Durst's house in Beverly Hills in an attempt to retrieve his gear. 

"Eddie Van Halen stood on the front lawn of a residential home in Beverly Hills in broad daylight, smoking a cigarette while holding a gun on Fred Durst as he went back and forth from the house to the assault vehicle, lugging amps and guitars" (via Ultimate Classic Rock).

Vince Neil kills Razzle while driving drunk

On December 8, 1984, Finnish glam rockers Hanoi Rocks had just arrived in the United States for their first North American tour. Then-veterans Mötley Crüe decided to take them under their wing and show them the ropes. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, when the party ran out of liquor, Crüe frontman Vince Neil hopped in his sports car with Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle in the passenger seat. Both had been drinking heavily.

What happened next was as predictable as it was tragic. Neil took a hard turn on a winding Hollywood road, lost control of the vehicle, and smashed it head on into another car. Nobody was unhurt, but most made full recoveries. Razzle, however, wasn't so lucky. The drummer, 24-year-old Nicholas Dingley, died on impact. After being released from South Bay Hospital, Neil, loaded with cash and good legal representation, got off with a slap on the wrist: a 30 days stint in jail.

He has shown remorse for his actions in the years since, according to Ultimate Classic Rock. "I wrote a $2.5 million check for vehicular manslaughter when Razzle died. I should have gone to prison. I definitely deserved to go to prison. But I did 30 days in jail and got laid and drank beer, because that's the power of cash."

Travis Barker barely survives a plane crash

In summer of 2021, Travis Barker and his girlfriend, Kourtney Kardashian, hopped on a plane and flew to Cabo, according to People. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was the first time the heavily tattooed Blink-182 and Machine Gun Kelly drummer had been in the sky since a deadly plane crash in 2008, 13 years prior.

Back then, the world hadn't heard much from the members of pop punk superstars Blink-182 ever since the band went on "indefinite hiatus" in 2005 (via MTV). But Barker's plane crash changed that overnight. According to CBS, Barker and his staff boarded a private Learjet in South Carolina, following a concert. The aircraft never made it to the skies: Its underinflated tires exploded, as per CBS, causing its brakes to fail and the whole craft to skid off the runway. It collided into the trees and burst into flames. Barker and his friend DJ AM, also known as Adam Goldstein, were the only survivors.

People reports that Barker suffered serious burns on roughly two-thirds of his body and was seriously traumatized after the incident. Tragically, a year later, DJ AM died of an overdose. Barker is now the only one left to tell the tale.

The only good news to come out of the tragedy was that it got the classic three members of Blink talking again; they announced their (ultimately short-lived) reunion at the 2009 Grammys (via Reuters).

Billy Idol is dragged from a hotel by the Thai military

Hotel-trashing is a proud tradition amongst rockers. And Billy Idol, the British punk known for '80s hits like "Dancing With Myself" and "White Wedding," knew how to do it right (or wrong). Far Out Magazine describes a particular incident in Thailand: In 1989, Idol, now an instantly recognizable rock star, arrived in the southeast Asian country determined to partake in every hedonistic indulgence he could find.

He hunkered down in the penthouse suite of the Orient Hotel and turned the place into a raging party that dragged on for three whole weeks, ultimately causing an astonishing $250,000 in damages. Unsurprisingly, the hotel managers were enraged. But removing the "Rebel Yell" rocker was a tougher task than you might think. After unsuccessfully trying to kick him out themselves, they were forced to call in not the police, but the Thai military.

According Idol's book, "Dancing With Myself," excerpted in Time, the platoon who kicked in the suite door used tranquilizers to put him down, before strapping him to a stretcher and carrying him off like a wounded comrade. "... I was escorted speedily out of the country by a platoon of the Thai Army, tranquilized and lashed to a military stretcher. By the time I reach the emergency room, the pain is so intense my thoughts are stopped cold as my injuries wreak havoc on my nervous system."

Keith Richards snorts his father's ashes

How Keith Richards is still alive is one of life's great mysteries. Rolling Stone magazine details some of Richard's wildest moments. Among the most head-turning entries are how he once went nine days without sleeping; how he got caught up in an infamous late '60s drug raid involving Mick Jagger and 20 British cops; how he was simultaneously exiled from France for drug abuse and native Britain for tax reasons; how he almost died by electrocution onstage in 1965 after accidentally touching an exposed mic wire with his guitar; and how he and fellow Rolling Stones bandmate Ronnie Wood got through an entire tour in the '70s by sneaking behind some amps and snorting coke between songs.

But the most shocking, and infamous, Richards moment has to be when he snorted the ashes of his late father. It sounds like an urban legend, but the legendary rhythm guitarist admits it proudly. "The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father," Richards said in 2007, according to the article. "He was cremated, and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow." In response to predictable outrage, he said, "My dad wouldn't have cared, he didn't give a s***."

Rick Allen loses his arm

Def Leppard was one the biggest bands of the early '80s, thanks to the success of its breakthrough 1983 record "Pyromania." According to Louder, the album, on the backs of hits like "Photograph" and "Rock of Ages," was at one point selling 100,000 copies per day in the U.S. alone.

But the good times wouldn't last forever. On New Year's Eve 1984, Forbes says drummer Rick Allen rolled his Corvette C4 while joyriding in native England. His left arm came clean off in the accident. A Los Angeles Times article written a few days later describes injuries sustained by his girlfriend, as well as an attempt to reattach Allen's severed limb. The surgery, tragically, didn't take. But it could've been worse.

"Not too many people know this," Allen said in an interview, as per Blabbermouth, "but I broke my right arm really badly [in the 1984 accident], and during the healing process, the hospital, they said, 'There's a chance that you may lose your right arm as well."

Luckily, that didn't happen. The article details how Allen famously had a custom kit built so he could continue to play drums for the band with only one arm, which he's still doing today.

The 1992 Montreal riot

Heading into 1992, Guns N' Roses and Metallica were two of the biggest bands on the planet. But their attempt to tour together has become legendary, for all the wrong reasons. Loudwire details some of the incidents that made the co-headlining stretch one of the darkest periods in Metallica history and arguably the worst part of Guns' already infamous "Use Your Illusion" tour. In a nutshell, Metallica was appalled by the disrespect GN'R frontman Axl Rose showed his own fans by often taking the stage hours late, and occasionally storming off during sets.

But the tour has become defined by the twin disasters of their sold out Montreal show. According to the New York Times, Metallica frontman James Hetfield accidentally walked into a pyrotechnic blast, sustaining serious injuries. As he was being rushed to the hospital, headliners Guns N' Roses were asked to take the stage early to placate a disappointed crowd. They agreed, but Rose abruptly left the stage about halfway through their set, complaining about voice issues.

What happened next has become the stuff of rock legend. Thousands of fans revolted, turning the stadium inside out before spilling into the streets to set fires and flip cars. The verdict is still out on whether or not this was worse than the 1991 Riverport riot, which the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says was also caused by Axl storming offstage in the middle of a set (resulting in GN'R being banned from St. Louis until 2017).