Think the life of a rock star is all limousines, groupies and presidential suites? Think again. Rock can be a dirty business, as these 10 gross turd tales reveal...
Nine Inch Nails
Woodstock 1994 might not have captured the peace and love vibe of the original 1969 festival, but both events shared one thing: an excess of mud. A quarter-century after the original Woodstock festival was held on Max Yasgur’s property in Bethel, New York, 1994’s Woodstock event was staged 100 kilometres down the road on Winston Farm. Featuring the era’s biggest names in music including Metallica, Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers, it was Nine Inch Nails’ set that pulled one of the largest crowds. Fresh from releasing their 1994 opus The Downward Spiral, Trent Reznor and his cronies had already built a reputation of covering each other in corn starch prior to hitting the stage. For Woodstock, they went one better with their pre-gig ritualism. Finding “a mud pit” near the edge of the stage, the five band members rolled about in the filth before their performance. Band photographer Joseph Cultice told Revolver magazine in 2018 “it was this big cathartic thing”, but also revealed the reality of the muddy ceremony. “We found out later that the mud pit was right next to all the Porta Potties. It was piss. It was overflow … I looked at it in the daylight the next day and was like, Ugh, that's definitely got piss and shit in it.”
Kings Of Leon
“So sorry St Louis. We had to bail, pigeons shitting in Jared‘s mouth…” This tweet from Kings Of Leon drummer Nathan Followill summarised the horrors of the band’s July 2010 gig at Verizon Amphitheater in Missouri. Large numbers of birds in the venue’s rafters were obviously not fans of the band behind “Sex On Fire”, “On Call” and “Use Somebody”, with the performance literally becoming a shit show. Bassist Jared Followill suffered the worst of it: “Jared was hit several times during the first two songs,” band spokesperson Andy Mendelson explained. “On the third song, when he was hit in the cheek and some of it landed near his mouth, they couldn’t deal any longer. It’s not only disgusting it’s a toxic health hazard. They really tried to hang in there.” Interviewing Nathan Followill a few months after the horrific evening, this writer asked if the drummer was concerned ‘Pigeongate’ would be mentioned in the band’s obituaries. “I definitely think there will be a lot of pigeon shit on our tombstones, for sure,” Followill suggested. “Hopefully we can live in peace and shit-free harmony from here on.”
In the years following Ozzy Osbourne’s 1979 expulsion from Black Sabbath, his future wife Sharon Osbourne took over the bat-biting star’s management from her famously heavy-handed father Don Arden. While father and daughter became estranged over the deal, Sharon obviously learnt some of her aggressive business tactics from the man known as ‘the Al Capone of pop’. Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi learnt this the hard way following the release of Sabbath’s post-Ozzy album Born Again in 1983. When rumour got back to Sharon Osbourne the guitarist had dubbed the devil baby on the album’s cover Aimee, after Sharon and Ozzy’s first-born, it unleashed her inner she-wolf. Learning Iommi was set to dine at LA restaurant Le Dome, Sharon organised for a special delivery to be presented at his table. Misbelieving it must be a gift from his record label, Iommi opened the package to find the box actually contained a pile of shit. “Two big turds,” Sharon recalled in Mick Wall’s Black Sabbath biography Symptom Of The Universe. “One each from me and Ozzy!” That’s not to suggest she was completely lacking in taste though: “It was a Tiffany gift box,” the Osbourne matriarch told Q magazine. “Tony was giving Ozzy a hard time, so I gave him a hard time. Tony and I have a laugh about it now.”
Terrifying turd tales run (pardon the pun) in the Osbourne family. Of all the jaw-dropping tales in Ozzy Osbourne’s rollicking 2009 autobiography, I Am Ozzy, it’s the Black Sabbath frontman’s seemingly innocent day out looking at real estate which is the most shocking. Shortly after Osbourne dosed himself up on laxatives to cure his constipation, the missus told him they were due at a property inspection. Unfortunately, Ozzy’s treatment began to work during the private showing, whereupon he excused himself from the realtor and hastily made his way to the bathroom. Making himself comfortable, Osbourne unleashed a torrent akin to the “Mississippi River” before realising there was no toilet paper to mop up the scene. “I stand up and think, ‘Fuck it, I’ll just have to go unwiped until we get home,” I Am Ozzy reveals. “Then I realise shit’s gone all over the back of my legs, so I don’t have any choice – I’ve got to wipe myself down with something.” Scanning the room for anything mildly absorptive, Osbourne pulled a curtain from the window and heartily wiped himself down before dumping the bogged-up blind in the bath. To perhaps make matters worse, Osbourne was aware the home was owned by another musical veteran: British easy-listening maestro Roger Whittaker. “I think, Well, maybe I should leave a note. But what would it say? ‘Dear Roger, sorry for shitting on your curtains. Love the whistling! Cheers, Ozzy.’” Having regaled Elton John with the sorry tale on one occasion, a subsequent Osbourne visit to John’s mansion had the host nervously enquire “You won’t do a Roger Whittaker over here will you?”…
Ozzy Osbourne’s not the only one to reveal his mucky toilet exploits in his autobiography. Electro/ambient/punk star Moby recalled in his 2019 autobiography Then It Fell Apart a graphic tale in his tour bus between London and Manchester in 2007. Joined by two women from his record label in the upstairs area of the bus, the trio downed vodka, cocaine and ecstasy before stripping off their clothes and having sex. “Around the time the sun came up, I passed out,” Moby wrote. Waking up alone hours later with the bus parked at his Manchester hotel, the musician found himself covered in excrement. “Either I had engaged in messy anal sex that I didn’t remember, or somebody – possibly me, possibly one of the women – had shat on the couch we had sex on.” Rock‘n’roll, eh?
Dave Matthews Band
US rock group Dave Matthews Band drove into a media shitstorm in 2004 when the band’s bus driver emptied the vehicle’s septic tank in Chicago. Driver Stefan Wohl made the foolhardy decision to dump his 400-kilogram load while driving over a grate on the Kinzie Street Bridge, with nearly 100 unlucky tourists on a Chicago River vessel below covered in the waste. The Chicago Tribune reported the unlucky sightseers were coated in a “foul-smelling, brownish-yellow slurry that ruined their clothes and made several of them sick”, while the city’s mayor Richard Daley described the affair as “absolutely unacceptable”. Wohl was sacked by the Dave Matthews Band, served 18 months probation and cost his former employers US$300,000 (a settlement fee as well as goodwill donations to local park and river charities), with the band’s environmental reputation also tarnished by the escapade. Meanwhile, Matthews copped plenty of flack from online trolls over the incident, with one critic labelling it “the best DMB release of all time”. A year after the shit show, Ben & Jerry’s paid tribute to the group with an intriguing flavour: Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies.
Muse’s Matt Bellamy
Muse’s September 2004 gig at Adelaide’s Thebarton Theatre was going swimmingly until frontman Matt Bellamy made an awkward announcement to the sold-out audience: “I’ve got a shit I need to do… I’m going to the toilet!”. If the crowd looked shocked, it was nothing compared to the looks his two bandmates, drummer Dom Howard and bassist Chris Wolstenholme, gave each other when they realised they’d have to entertain the audience while their frontman attended to an explosive bowel movement. This writer asked Howard about the episode when they returned to the city three years later. “That was highly embarrassing,” the drummer acknowledged. “I can’t believe he even said that on stage. ‘Oh my God! Why did you just tell 2000 people you need to take a shit?’.” Howard revealed the problem arose because of a massive meaty meal the band enjoyed the evening before at Argentinean restaurant Gaucho’s. “Matt had eaten a full leg of lamb on the bone. He felt like shit the next day, but having to do that on stage in the middle of a show is plain embarrassing.”
Garbage’s Shirley Manson
Years before she sang about a “Bad Boyfriend” on 2005’s Bleed Like Me, Garbage vocalist Shirley Manson once got back at a dodgy partner in a unique way: by shitting in his cereal. In 2002 she told MTV Asia she had committed the act because “he was really annoying me”, but admitted talking about it had been “one of my big mistakes and I should never have said it. Now, I have to pay the price for it”. In 2000 Manson was quizzed by a fan about the mechanics of dropping a log in the corn flakes: “I held the bowl in my hand and squatted over it,” she explained. “Of course I used the bowl later - after cleaning it, naturally."
Back To The Future might have suggested Chuck Berry found his inspiration at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance, but he was actually inspired by enchantments under the seat. In a 1990 drug raid at his Missouri home, police found videotapes of hundreds of women covertly filmed using the toilet at Berry’s Southern Air Restaurant. A 1993 report in Spy magazine provided more detail of Berry’s fetish, with footage recording multiple camera angles in the venue’s female toilets then “painstakingly” edited together to show the women “in the act of relieving themselves”. By the mid-‘90s Berry had paid out more than a million dollars in class actions and settlements in relation to the perverted recordings created, according to court documents, “for the improper purpose of entertainment and gratification". Despite being a rock pioneer, the tapes left Berry’s reputation in the toilet.
Faith No More’s Mike Patton
Previous I Like Your Old Stuff stories (see here) have acknowledged Faith No More frontman Mike Patton’s poo predilection in the 1990s. Engaging in acts he called “shit terrorism”, the singer’s acts included wedging crap in a hotel dryer “so the next guest to dry their hair would get hot shit in their face”, shitting on car bonnets, park benches and in a venue microwave. In 1992 the poop prankster said, “I don’t use toilets”, preferring “the placement of human shit” in more creative locations: “If you're in a new city, there's always a new place!", he told Metal Connection. “I'm not a shit-eater or anything," Patton once told NME magazine, despite just admitting he’d tasted his own poo. Given his (c)rap sheet, is it any wonder this genre-defying rogue once wrote a song called “Cuckoo For Caca”?
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