It is said that the golden age of deranged rock stars is over. Gone are the TV-throwing, groupie-loving, drug-abusing stars that our parents idolised and subsequently forsook when parenthood came. In many ways, the legendary anecdotes about these rock stars’ antics were inseparable from the music, and won them legions of adoring fans. Most of today’s stars tiptoe around controversy, and focus more on informing their social media followers about the banal events of their daily lives. The worst crimes modern musicians are guilty of are tempestuous love lives. But is the near-extinction of crazy rock stars to be lamented?
You can make your own mind up as you peruse this list of history’s 20 craziest rock stars. Here, we will look at the lives and crimes of some of the 20th century’s biggest stars. But though this list contains some of the usual suspects – John Bonham, Keith Moon, Ozzy Osbourne – it is truly a connoisseur’s collection, and doubtless you will not have heard of a few musicians whose obscurity should not detract from the decadence and eccentricity of their behaviour. So dig out your dad’s dusty old vinyls, pour yourself a stiff Jack Daniels and coke, and enjoy!
1. Lemmy was kicked out of his first band for his excessive drug use, but didn’t let up
Lemmy Kilmister rose to fame as the bassist for the acid-drenched space rock band, Hawkwind, but was kicked out for taking too many drugs. Lemmy’s iconic band, Motörhead, were named after the nickname Hawkwind gave him for his overindulgence in amphetamine and cocaine. A hard drinker and drug user for most of his life, as long ago as 1980 Lemmy was refused a blood transfusion on the grounds that ‘I had become so toxic, mostly from all the speed and alcohol, that fresh blood would have killed me’. He also bedded over 1000 women over his miraculously long life.
Lemmy was known as much for his appetite for sex, drugs, and alcohol as for Motörhead, but his relentless daily diet of 40-Marlboro-Red and a bottle of Jack Daniels actually helped to hone his distinctive, gravelly singing voice. He did make one concession to old age, however. Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2011, he swapped Jack Daniels and coke for vodka and orange. Despite his great fame, Lemmy remained a down-to-earth man, unlike some of the other prima donnas on this list. His death on Christmas Eve 2015 forever ruined the holiday season for millions around the world.