Fewer things in life are more exciting than heading to see your favorite band play live in concert. Adrenaline is high, drinks — among other things — are flowing and all you are ready to do is rock.
When it’s that much fun to be in the crowd, I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to be on stage. You’re ready to perform in front of thousands of screaming fans and are probably feeling a mixture of excitement and anxiety.
However, with high levels of energy in excitement often comes a problem or two; some accidental and some just plain crazy.
Let’s take a look back at some of the most wild things that have happened at rock shows over the years.
The City of Not-So Brotherly Love. In 1977, Aerosmith had a show in Philadelphia and the gang was heading back to perform an encore. It was as the band members were heading to the stage when a fan threw a cherry bomb directly at them.
Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford told Goldmine in a recent interview that he still remembers Steven Tyler covering his face and Joe Perry’s arm spewing blood. With so much blood, they had to head straight to the ER.
Since the band mates suffered such extreme injuries (aburned cornea and ruptured arteries) after such a senseless act, Aerosmith decided to avoid Philly for a little bit. That was at least until…
Everyone deserves a second chance. On November 25th, 1978, Aerosmith returned to Philadelphia for the first time since the cherry bomb incident. The show was sold-out and the crowd was rockin’ to the band’s set. According to reports, when Aerosmith was only a handful of songs into the show, another fan decided that chucking a beer bottle from the balcony would be a good idea.
Unfortunately, Tyler was in the wrong place yet again and he received shards of glass to the face.
Steven Tyler can’t seem to catch a break. This time, no fans were involved in the accident that caused Aerosmith’s frontman to suffer from head, neck and shoulder injuries.
During a show in South Dakota in 2009, Tyler wanted to impress fans with some new dance moves which involved some pretty intense footwork. Unfortunately, the sides of the stage were a bit closer than he thought and, well, down he went.
Sometimes you’re your own worst enemy. Meat Loaf, an artist known for his exuberant performances, once went a little too wild onstage and, similar to Tyler, fell right off.
Back in 1978, while touring to promote Bat Out Of Hell, Meat Loaf took a spill and ended up with a broken leg. Luckily he finished off his tour, but did so in a wheelchair. It seems as if he’d do anything for rock.
The end of the stage is closer than you think. In 1977, The Patti Smith Group was on tour and opening for Bob Seger. At a show in Florida, Patti Smith got a little too close to the edge of the stage and fell off, resulting in a broken neck. Smith fell 15 feet and landed in a concrete pit and had to attend physical therapy to be able to walk again.
Smith told Circus Magazine that she “felt like an asshole,” but her doctor reassured her that it happens to everybody.
It really does happen to everybody. Back in 2001, U2 was on tour and, during their opening show, Bono had a clumsy moment and fell off the stage while walking backwards. Lucky for the band’s frontman, he was okay and was able to finish the show.
Laughing it off always helps. In 2006, Pearl Jam was on a European tour and, as per usual, Eddie Vedder was giving fans a very enthusiastic performance.
In an attempt to run across the stage, Vedder tripped over some equipment and landed flat on his face. The fall looked pretty brutal, but he got up rather quickly, dropped his mic, picked it back up and kept the show going. Sometimes it’s all about keeping high spirits.
Blood is pretty slippery. The Who’s Pete Townshend is a man of many talents, but his windmill power chord stroke was perhaps the best of the best. Sure, he had done it thousands of times but, in 1989, the strings of his guitar worked against him even worse than they’ve done before.
According to Rule Forty Two, Townshend missed the encore of a Washington show when he sliced open his hand on his guitar strings and was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital. During another show that same year, he pierced his palm on the guitar’s whammy bar. Yikes.
Don’t forget that guitar strings would get underneath his fingernails and rip them off. That meant a lot of blood which made the guitar pick pretty slippery.
Fire doesn’t always mix well with rock. At least not in Gene Simmons’ case.
We all know that KISS was always a band to incorporate some real excitement into their live shows, most notably fire. When it came time to play songs like Firehouse, Simmons enjoyed sippin’ on some gasoline and blowing into a lit torch. Whoever told him that was a good idea was not thinking straight because when ya have long hair, being that close to gasoline and fire will NOT end well.
Let me say it again: fire does not mix well with rock. Similar to KISS, Metallica always enjoyed bringing the flame to their shows.
James Hetfield was standing literally in the worst place possible as pyrotechnics started going off during Fade to Black. Hetfield was directly over one of the launching areas and he was severely burnt on his arm and face.
The performance isn’t the only thing that’s shocking. Back in 1965, during a Rolling Stones concert in California, Keith Richards had quite the electric shock when he bumped his guitar into an ungrounded mic stand. The ordeal created an electrical surge which ultimately knocked Richards out.
According to the Huffington Post, the shock itself sounded like a gun shot and many crowd members were worried it was a gunshot.
A semiconscious Richards was carried out by EMS with oxygen tubes, with fans and band members worried for his life. Luckily he recovered quickly and was back onstage the next night, presumably far from any mic stands.
Sometimes accidents inspire hits. During a 1976 show in Florida, KISS’ Ace Frehley was coming down from a performance jump when he felt a bit wobbly. To stabilize himself, he grabbed onto a nearby metal rail, causing an electric circuit with his guitar. The current was so strong that Frehley was temporarily unable to move, but luckily he let go and fell to the stage.
Frehley told the Lakeland Ledger that his life passed before his eyes. He took a quick ten minute break backstage, but came back to a standing ovation from fans.
He was certainly a trooper after his near-death experience.
“I said, ‘I can’t play,'” Frehley told Morton Report. “Then the fans started chanting my name and I finished the show. But I had no feeling in my hands. I don’t know how I even did it. I guess it was all adrenaline.
According to Ultimate Classic Rock, the scary incident in Florida inspired Shock me, which was the first track Frehley ever sang on a KISS album.
There you have it, folks. Some crazy things have happened onstage in the rock world. What would you add to this list?