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Top 10 Worst Rock Star Fails

Dave Grohl performs with the Foo Fighters in 2018. CC BY SA 4.0 Credit: Andreas Lawen, Fotandi

Rock stars are just like us! They trip, they fall, and they lose focus – but their mistakes happen in front of live audiences, rather than in the home living room. Here are some of the most famous fails onstage.

10 David Bowie

In 2004, David Bowie was playing a set in Oslo, Norway when he was hit in the eye by a lollipop stick. What are the odds? Norwegians call the candy “love on a stick” so it was probably thrown as a gesture of adoration. After recovering, Bowie said, “Lucky you hit the bad one,” referring to his famous set of eyes – one clear blue, the other a dusky black.


09 Alice Cooper

In 1975 in Vancouver, Alice Cooper got caught up in a stage prop and ended up landing on his head behind the security barriers. He broke six ribs and had a concussion, but returned to finish the show. Cooper said, ”I was using a toy box as a prop and it fell over and knocked me off the stage. I cracked my ribs and hit my head on the cement floor. I put my hand on my head and it felt like a baseball. But we came back on in that old ‘show-must-go-on’ bit.”


08 Iggy Pop – The Stooges

At the Stooges’ last show in Detroit in 1974 before breaking up, Iggy Pop was beaten up by members of the Scorpions motorcycle gang. The band had been pelted during the show with beer bottles, eggs, and containers full of urine as Iggy continued to taunt the audience. Legendary critic Lester Bangs said, “Nobody gets killed, but Metallic K.O. is the only rock album I know where you can actually hear hurled beer bottles breaking against guitar strings.”


07 Tommy Lee – Mötley Crüe

In 1990, Tommy Lee was performing his signature flying drum solo at a New Haven, CT show when he panicked and let go of his guide rope, turning him upside down. After a 20-foot plummet, he hit his head on a fan in the audience and then bounced onto the ground head-first, blacking out. He was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a concussion.


06 Patti Smith

Patti Smith was touring in support of Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band in 1977 when her toe hit the edge of a monitor and she fell off the stage and broke her neck in Tampa, Florida. Smith fell around15 feet into a concrete orchestra pit and fractured her spine and broke several vertebrae in her neck. Smith later blamed Seger’s road crew, who gave her band insufficient space on stage, and said she still suffers from spinal discomfort.


05 Keith Moon – The Who

The Who drummer Keith Moon could always be counted on to create mischief and mayhem. During their American TV debut in 1967 on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Moon had decided to filled his drum kit with explosives to set off during “My Generation.” The resulting explosion almost knocked the Who off the stage, temporarily blinded the TV cameras, and caused guest Bette Davis to faint.


04 Krist Novoselic – Nirvana

During the 1992 Video Music Awards, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic decided to perform his popular stage trick of throwing his bass high into the air and catching it. Unfortunately, this time around, Novoselic’s bass embarrassingly konked him on the head and he fell to the ground and had to be taken to the hospital. Not surprisingly, this prompted Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl to destroy their own equipment on stage and continue slinging taunts at Axl Rose, who had earlier told Cobain to “get his bitch in line” referring to his wife Courtney Love. Novoselic still owns the bass, damaged neck and all.


03 Steven Tyler – Aerosmith

Aerosmith‘s Steven Tyler has fallen off the stage twice while singing the song “Love in an Elevator.” The first time was in 2009 when Tyler, showing off some crazy dance moves, fell from the stage, suffering head, neck, and shoulder injuries. The second incident occurred in 2010 after guitarist Joe Perry playfully shoved Tyler a little too hard on stage and sent him over the edge.


02 Frank Zappa

In 1971, Frank Zappa believed that someone was out to kill him. First, at a Mothers of Invention gig in Switzerland, someone from the audience fired a flare gun at the ceiling and the Montreux Casino burned to the ground. And yes, it inspired the Deep Purple song “Smoke On The Water”:

“We all came out to Montreux on the Lake Geneva shoreline / To make records with a mobile – We didn’t have much time / Frank Zappa & the Mothers were at the best place around / But some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground / Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky…”

Then, a week later, Zappa was performing at London’s Rainbow Theatre when a fan rushed the stage and pushed Zappa into the concrete orchestra pit, enraged he was covering The Beatles “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Zappa recalls, ”The band thought I was dead. My head was over on my shoulder, and my neck was bent like it was broken. I had a gash in my chin, a hole in the back of my head, a broken rib, and a fractured leg. One arm was paralyzed.” The fall nearly killed him and he was in a wheelchair for over a year.


01 Dave Grohl – Foo Fighters

If you needed any more proof that Dave Grohl might be the #1 rock star in the world right now, it would be hard to top what happened after his stumble off stage in Gothenburg, Sweden. Grohl took a catastrophic fall into the security pit, but vowed to come back after going to the hospital and “fixing” his leg. Drummer Taylor Hawkins led the band in an hour of covers, and Grohl returned as promised to finish the show. His leg was in such bad shape that a medic had to hold it in place while he sat in a chair. He later resumed the tour while seated on a custom-made guitar throne.

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