That old guy up there looking shiftier than a rat with a gold tooth? That’s AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd, arrested earlier this week for attempting to procure murder. That is, he went Tony Soprano and (allegedly) sought to have two people whacked for his convenience. That charge has since been dropped due to lack of evidence, although charges of making a death threat and possessing methamphetamines are still in place.
To mark the momentous occasion of another music celebrity losing their shit, we’re taking a look at our five favourite, lesser known cases of musicians who, just like us, put their pants on one leg at a time and commit horrible crimes.
5. Johnny Cash hates himself some Mother Nature
The Man in Black was famous for his social conscience. In particular, he championed the cause of Native Americans against severe injustice in the 60s.
When it came to the beauty of the environment though, Johnny adopted the position of not giving many shits. Specifically, none. In his wildest, amphetamine-iest stage in 1965, Cash took a ‘party truck’ out to the middle of the Las Casitas National Forest in California, where it promptly overheated and caught fire, taking a whole lot of the forest with it. Cash allegedly just said ‘fuck it’ and went fishing while everything was burning, like a hillbilly Nero.
The worst part? The endangered California condor kind of called that forest home, and the fire cooked 49 of them. To put it into perspective, there were only 53 in the entire forest. Considering the condor was declared extinct in the wild in 1987, Johnny Cash was, you know, pretty responsible. Thankfully, he showed an appropriate level of remorse when the government sued, declaring ‘I don’t care about your damn yellow buzzards’
4: Ozzy Osbourne publicly urinates on America
There are people who like to say ‘If Britney Spears can make it through 2007, you can make it through today’. These people know nothing. Ozzy Osbourne navigated the whole 1980s high as a kite on every single substance known to man and he did it by himself because Black Sabbath had had enough of his shit.
Most people whisper in hushed tones the ‘he bit the head off that bat‘ story. Few recall the time Ozzy, drunk as a lemur, was wandering through the streets of San Antonio one muggy Texas afternoon in 1982 wearing one of Sharon’s dresses, when he decided it was time to break the seal. Finding no public restrooms suitable, he proceeded to drop trou and take a whiz on whatever was closest to him.
More specifically the cenotaph at the Alamo dedicated to the 189 brave Texans who died there. But still, have you ever stood in the Alamo? I have. Chills were felt, it is that historically important. Read about it if you haven’t had enough badass in your day.
He was promptly arrested, miraculously avoiding a beating and was banned from San Antonio for 10 years.
3: Chuck Berry is a rock and roll God, also an uncontrollable creep
Without Chuck Berry, rock and roll as we know it wouldn’t exist. It was Berry who took elements of rhythm and blues and damn near invented rock and roll, slapping his distinct showmanship all over it. Richards, Lennon and Orbison all claimed him as a huge influence.
He also happens to be remorselessly, slitheringly creepy.
After opening a restaurant in Missouri in the late 80s, he was busted by one of his own chefs making videos of her changing and using the toilet. After that domino dropped, tapes were found at his home and several more women came forward to complain about being filmed by Berry, who admitted to his crimes and went away quietly. And by that we mean he ‘confessed’ that, sure, he had known there were cameras in that bathroom, but damned if he knew who put them there.
Not one person had been lobotomised enough to find that explanation even the slightest bit reasonable and he was forced to pay millions in settlements.
2: DMX is not an FBI agent but says he is anyway so he can threaten people
Hip hop and criminal activity have often been bedfellows so it seems like kind of a cop out to have a rapper on this list. This one is especially amazing though because it’s not just any rapper. It’s DMX, who enjoys taking one hell of a spiteful dump on the mere notion of ‘sanity’
In 2004 he took being crazier than a shithouse rat to a higher astral plane. He and a friend, both coked to the gills, broke into a parking lot at Kennedy Airport in New York, pretending to be a government agent.
Once inside (yes, someone in gainful employment actually bought his nonsensical story), he pulled a car over and ordered the driver out, again claiming to be an FBI agent. DMX was not there to fuck spiders, so when the driver said no he just straight up grabbed him and tossed him out of the vehicle. Oh, and the driver’s 12 year old daughter was sitting in the car the whole time.
Why? Why did you do this DMX? Surely you were well off enough in 2004 to avoid having to steal cars in an airport post-9/11? Well, the police arrived and found 15-20 rocks of crack cocaine (oh, that’s why), lots of prescription medication and a billy club in his car. Then they did only what was right and placed DMX in a federal institution for a long time.
No, they totally didn’t. He pretty much got off scot free and fucking DANCED OUT OF COURT.
DMX is still out there, a free man. Just waiting to ruin your day.
1: Rick James
God rest Rick James and his eternal, batshit insane soul. Rick James made DMX look like a choirboy. His list of fuck shit he did while on this mortal coil could have taken up this entire article (and many more), but taking the cake is the time he absolutely kidnapped another person and tortured them.
James and his girlfriend met a 17-year-old girl at a party in the Hollywood hills, took her home, tied her up for six days and burnt her with a crack pipe while sexually assaulting her.
Sweet crap on a crust. WHAT?
Yep, this actually happened. Rick James and his girlfriend were a fatality away from being 80s funk Fred and Rosemary. They had also reportedly snorted enough snow to make ‘final ten minutes of Scarface’ Tony Montana look rational. Good gravy, Rick, I know you testified to the kind of drug cocaine is-
-but this was lunacy of the highest order. Two years in Folsom prison and I’m pretty sure Rick learned his lesson. Or, you know, completely didn’t because he FUCKING KIDNAPPED AND BEAT SOMEONE WHILE ON PAROLE FOR THE FIRST KIDNAPPING AND BEATING!