5. Rage Against The Machine Bassist Rages Against The Stage Props
At the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, Rage were nominated for Best Video for their Michael Moore-directed “Sleep Now In The Fire”. They lost to some bullshit by Limp Bizkit, and bassist Tim Commerford was not pleased.
In his defense, very few members of Rage are ever pleased about anything.
While the Bizkits were onstage accepting their award, Commerford suddenly materialized on top of the stage dressing, rocking it back and forth while audience members urged him to jump, because of course they did. Nobody seemed to be sure if it was a planned stunt (it wasn’t), the other band members were mortified, and the NYPD thought Commerford was a crazy fan and promptly arrested his ass when he came down.
This effectively ended Rage for a long-ass time; lead shouter-atter Zack De La Rocha quit the band a few days later. We just wish that if Commerford had to kill his band to make his point, he would have at least managed to squash Limp Bizkit while he was at it.
4. Sinead O’Connor Pisses Off Every Catholic In The World On SNL
For her 1992 performance on Saturday Night Live, Sinead O’Connor had a little surprise for everyone. She sang a powerful acapella rendition of Bob Marley’s “War” and your first hint that something was wrong was her changing of the word “racism” in the lyrics to “child abuse”. She also seemed… well, increasingly agitated as the performance progressed, and at the end it became apparent why.
While singing the word “evil”, she produced a picture of Pope John Paul II, then tore it to pieces as the song ended. There was absolute dead silence in the studio (sadly, the one guy who was supposed to shout “what the fuck?!?” must have missed his cue) and a quick cut to commercial.
Obviously, nobody had been warned of this beforehand (she had held up a picture of a starving child during dress rehearsal) and SNL producer Lorne Michaels, probably after changing the underwear he had just rage-crapped in, sprang into damage control mode.
Not that it did much good; NBC was flooded with telephone calls and angry letters, tabloids everywhere jumped all over it (with headlines like “HOLY TERROR!”) and suffice to say that nobody invited Sinead to do jack shit on live TV ever again, pretty much. Joe Pesci tore up a picture of O’Connor on the following week’s episode, saying he would have “given her such a smack”, which would have scared us more than the combined anger of all the nation’s Catholics if we were Sinead O’Connor.
3. PiL Thinks American Bandstand is A Joke, Acts Like It
When American Bandstand invited Public Image Ltd. to appear in 1980, they apparently did not read up on the band or realize that its lead singer was John Lydon, the once and future Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. AB required bands to lip-sync, which went over exactly as well as you’d expect:
Lydon wandered around the audience, pulled people up onstage, engaged in idle conversation, banged his mic on the podium- everything he could think of to do except what he was supposed to be doing, which was pretend to sing. The rest of the band was likewise uninterested in pretending to play, but Dick Clark- ever the good sport- dutifully did his post-song interview and even had the band “perform” another number, which again consisted of Lydon wandering around the set like he was at a cocktail party.
Despite not cooperating in the least and potentially making a gigantic fiasco out of the airing, there were at least no expletives or overtly assholish remarks from Lydon, and the clip has become a regular part of AB’s highlight reels. Tom Snyder would probably say they got off easy.
2. The Stranglers Act A Fool On Dutch TV
English punk band the Stranglers were invited to perform on the Dutch music showcase “Top Pop” in 1977. And oh, they performed, all right, in much the same way that circus clowns do.
Singer Hugh Cromwell is obviously not singing, drummer Jet Black is even more obviously not playing (at one point even facing away from his drum kit) and the whole thing just generally looks like a bunch of Ritalin-addled toddlers pretending to do music stuff. But apparently nobody told the keyboardist; he proceeds to nail every pantomimed note perfectly, which is somehow the funniest part of the whole thing.
1. Billy Joel Stops Song To Be Huge Smartass At 1994 Grammys
A strange thing happened during Frank Sinatra’s acceptance speech for his Lifetime Achievement Award at the ’94 Grammy Awards. Frank was disappointed that he hadn’t been invited to sing, and yes, maybe he was going on for a bit; we don’t know how we would have dealt with it, but we’re pretty sure it wouldn’t have been the way the producers did- they cued the exit music and cut to commercial in the middle of his damn speech.
For some reason, this didn’t sit well with rock legend Billy Joel, who was performing his song “River of Dreams” next. There’s a slight pause in the middle of the song by design, but this time, Joel brought the number to a full stop, nonchalantly looked at his watch and intoned:
“Valuable advertising time… going by. Dollars… dollars… dollars.”
He let the producers sweat it out for what seemed like an eternity before mercifully launching his band back into the song. A textbook rock and roll moment, all in defense of Frank Sinatra, who famously didn’t much care for rock and roll.