Would rock even be what it is today without a little scandal? Rock & roll is often thought of as the most sordid genre. Many rock stars live true to the “sex, drugs, and rock & roll” mantra, so much so that it sometimes gets them into trouble. Revisit five of the most scandalous cases in rock history below.
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1. Elvis the Pelvis
From a modern point of view, it’s hard to imagine Elvis Presley‘s relatively tame gyration could be considered scandalous. Nevertheless, “Elvis the Pelvis” caused a major stir in the burgeoning rock world in the ’50s. Teenage viewers were instantly sucked into Presley’s sultry new performance style. Their old-fashioned parents were not so pleased. Though he wasn’t the first performer to conflate sex and rock & roll, he was one of the first to do it on the world’s stage.
2. John Lennon claims The Beatles to be bigger than Jesus
The Fab Four had a unique sense of humor. While it certainly contributed to their success, it also got them into trouble. One of the most famous soundbites from John Lennon was uttered in 1966 when he commented on the waning nature of Christianity and the rising fame of The Beatles.
“Christianity will go–It will vanish and shrink,” Lennon said. “I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
Naturally, Lennon’s comments were considered blasphemous and sparked a major boycott of the group’s music. Despite the career setback, we reckon they overcame it…
3. Ozzy Osbourne’s close encounter with a bat
We all know the story. It doesn’t get much more metal than biting the head off of a bat. Ozzy Osbourne made the mistake of thinking his fans would simply throw a fake bat onto the Prince of Darkness’ stage. When he decided to bite the head off of what he thought was a rubber toy, he realized there was a lot more blood and guts than originally anticipated. One bat and 24 rabies shots later, rock history was made.
4. Woodstock ’99 is Riotous
Woodstock ’99 was originally conceived as a way to drum up nostalgia for the original version of the festival and its “peace and love” messaging. Of course, the world was very different in the late ’90s than it was in the ’60s. There was nary a hippie in sight. Instead, the crowd was chock full of angry concertgoers who wanted to revel in some head-banging, moshing, and other rock show debauchery. Many crude and violent things went down at the now-infamous festival.
5. Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen
None of the Sex Pistols could have been considered clean-cut, but only one was accused of murdering his girlfriend. The mystery of Nancy Spungen’s death continues to rattle around in the brains’ of punk fans everywhere. Her boyfriend, Sid Vicious was the No. 1 suspect after she was found dead in their shared hotel room. Vicious’ culpability was never fully discerned, given that he too passed away before a trial could commence. It’s still one of rock’s biggest mysteries.
(Photo by Steve Morley/Redferns)