Live Performances Gone Awry

I couldn't help but think about the time I saw Steven Tyler stagger across the stage and pass out back in the early 80's, and how Stevie Nicks cancelled a concert at the New York State Fair around 1987-88 because she had such a bad cocaine problem. The Stevie Nick's show really upset me because she didn't reschedule and they didn't announce it until two hours before the show.

Anyone one else have any poor experiences at a live show they'd like to share? Grateful Dead welcome but please no stories of fans.
Absolute worst happening: David Bowie, May, 2004, Knight Center, Miami. After The Stereophonics opened, a stagehand fell from the scaffolding and landed on the stage in front of the audience and died. Bowie canceled and my money was refunded. Never rescheduled.

Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, The Greencards, May, 2005, Ft. Lauderdale Stadium. After The Greencards played, a horrible lightning and thunderstorm erupted. Sat under a cheap pancho and prayed I didn't get hit by lightning.

Lucinda Williams, March, 2004, Carefree Theater, West Palm Beach. Show delayed about an hour because Lucinda wouldn't get out of bus and come on stage. Came on, looked miserable through a few songs. Then opened up and put on a killer show. Going to see her tomorrow (11/20) at Parker Playhouse, Ft. Lauderdale.

Yellowman, late 1980's, Central Park, Negril. "Yellowman is coming! He's on his way!" Heard this for hours. He never showed.

Sly & The Family Stone, 1970, Miami Jai-Alai Fronton. Sly came on, fell off his stool. Carried off. Concert delayed about an hour, but, then, another killer show. Another time, in Washington, D.C., he never showed. Sly was (in)famous for this.

Going back that far, there's probably more, but I don't remember.

All in all, though, I've seen some great shows. The bad events were memorable, though few.
John Cougar then Jethro Tull then The Who in 1982 Boulder CO, the Who's farewell tour.
Cougar had probably 1 or 2 albums at that time I guess. He started first in the early afternoon maybe 1 or 2 pm. It's Boulder in the summertime, people playing frisbee and hacky sac, politly applauding after each song for the guy many might not have even heard of. After 2 or 3 songs he yelled "This ain't no Rick f***ing Springfield concert!!!" He played one or 2 more songs, same response from the crowd, so he simply walked off the stage. I remember his backup singers standing there for a few sesconds all confused, looking to their right to see if he was coming back. Then they hastily walked off stage. That was it. Then an extra long wait for Tull.
Ncarv...OMG,,,,that Bowie story is horrible.

The Lucinda Williams show cracks me up (kind of). I think everyone that's seen her has a story. We were second row of a small venue in 2009. Nobody was dancing and my wife, who ALWAYS DANCES, got out of her seat, walked to the isle and went right up in front of the stage and started dancing. Lucinda stopped playing, had some light talk with my wife and then told everyone they should be dancing too. We ended up having some cocktails with her after the show. She seems a bit depressed. It made me realize that even if you're an amazing song writer doesn't make you a happy person. Her band was awesome.

Speaking of dancing at shows, we live in Rochester NY so I've been to a ton of shows in Canada. It's not customary to dance at live shows in Canada, so every time my wife dances, we get treated as though we're bad audience members. Once in awhile someone will give in and dance with her.

We saw the Cranberries in Toronto last year, and Delores (lead singer) had to tell the audience to get out of their seats. Once she did that, the show rocked and it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. The drummer for the Cranberries is out of control he's so good.
One more story. I went to see Ronnie James Dio with a co-worker in 1998 at a very small venue. The show was amazing. Half way through the show, someone in the audience threw a beer bottle at Ronnie James Dio and just barely missed him. Ronnie stopped playing and told the audience one more time and he's done. Another guy from the audience who witnessed the guy throw the beer bottle, broke a beer bottle across that guys head and they had to take him away in an ambulance. Draft beer in cups is the way to go at some shows.
This isn't MY experience, but ..... I saw a very modified vintage Les Paul guitar for sale on Ebay, with full signed documentation. Hank Williams Jr was playing a large venue. At the end of his last song he threw his harmonica out into the crowd. It hit a women in the forehead requiring several stitches. He gave her the guitar he was playing at the time as consolation. The women had it up for sale. Nice scar story, I suppose.
Sebof. I saw that Who tour in Buffalo NY but instead of the Jethro Tull it was The Clash. I was about 14 maybe 15 at that show. I remember we blew off John Cougar. Knowing whaat I know now, he might have been awesome at a smaller venue. I saw Tull once but can't remember with who. I have my ticket stub but I'm too lazy to find out right now.
Isochronism - I saw Motorhead in 1983 ( I listen to a huge variety of music). The lead singer 'Lemmy' was playing their popular 'Ace of Spades' song at ear bleeding levels. We were third row side stage and I watched Lemmy flick his burning cigarette butt into the crowd. I couldn't believe it. At the same show, someone jumped off the balcony into the crowd below and they lived without a scratch. I think Merciful Fate was playing when that happened.

I'm glad I lived though the heavy metal days. Not that I did anything out of control, but the fans could get scary.
Went to a Dixie Dregs concert around 1990 at a downtown NYC venue that is long since closed down. We waited more than an hour past the posted start time for the warm-up band to start, which was a quasi-Kansas progressive fiddle-rock band as I recall. They weren't terrible but they were not the Dregs and the crowd rapidly grew hostile. After being steadily pummeled with beer and assorted projectiles the front man stepped up to the mic and said, "You know, you guys stink like smelly feet", at which point a barrage of footwear of every possible description was thrown onstage. The warm up band beat a hasty retreat and the Dregs came on and played a killer show.
Did anybody else see Lucinda Williams read her own lyrics off a sheet of paper on Austin City Limits while she mumbled/sang? Bazaaro.

On the other hand, it has always amazed me how some artists, Jerry Garcia comes to mind, can remember 1000's of song lyrics on the fly, while playing an instrument and under the influence.

No George "No Show Jones" Jones stories?
Jerry Jeff Walker in show in Mississippi was so drunk he could not remember the words to his songs. Fell over after the third song and was carried off. Back up band did one more song and it was over since he was the headliner. No refunds for a this 25 minute embarassment.

Roy Buchanan in a small venue in Norfolk, Virginia. Showed up an hour and 15 minutes late. Played for 35 minutes and left. That was it - done. Very angry crowd but the club took the position that he came and he played as promised but we never said for how long the show would be. No refunds.
in December 1975 I saw the Who at the Pontiac Silverdome and the opening band was the Reggae band Toots and the Maytals.

There were 76,000 there and several people threw dozens of bottles at the bandmembers until they left the stage.

Pete Townsend even asked them to quit throwing bottles but they did not listen.

Afterwards the Who played the best concert I ever saw.

I was there, too. But The Who left me cold that night (pun intended as it was well below zero outside). Lots of recorded accompaniement to Quadraphenia. Different strokes, I guess.

Other Michigan disasters:

Patti Smith's band gets snowed in and she does a solo acapella poetry reading instead of a concert.

Sly Stone shows up 4 hours late for a concert and sleepwalks thru it.

I brought a date to a Talking Heads show one Friday night only to find that it had taken place the night before. (I guess that one's on me.)

In New York:

Van Morrison played a pissed-off, 35 minute set at Jones Beach.

Chris Wood (Traffic) was so stoned at a NY Academy of Music show that he lost his sax mid-solo. He was swaying left to right and it just flew from his hands.

A fist fight in the crowd at a new wave/punk show at CBGB (The Shirst, maybe)spilled onto the stage and took out the drum kit.

Beer bottles were also hurled at opening act Michael Quattro at an ELP concert in Jersey City. He tried to catch them in the top he was wearing.

Those come to mind quickly, so I guess that I've had my share of bad moments.

Saw The Dead, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty in the Akron Rubber Bowl in 1986, literally days before Jerry went into his infamous "diabetic coma." I am as big a deadhead as anyone, but in response to Lokie above, Jerry DID NOT remember any of the song lyrics for any song that night. He bumbled and stumbled through the performance but what did I know--I was still in high school then. Of course, after that I saw many great shows in the late 80s/early 90s.

Anyone have any Replacements stories--they were notorious for drunken, messy, but occasionally inspirational live shows.
Joni Mitchell on acid at the Hollywood Bowl in the late 70's. She sang beautifully and had poetic lyrics. Unfortunately, the lyrics were not from any of her songs and came from whatever alternative reality her mind had drifted off to. She was seeing things and babbling. In the 80's at the Beacon theater in New York I saw Gene Loves Jezebel where one of the twin brothers (the lead singer) was so whacked out that he could not stand up. Really a cultural treat because at the time he was dressed in a diaphanous black dress with pearls.
I recall a concert I attended in NYC in the late 60s where Tim Buckley got sick halfway through his set and left; I can only speculate on what caused it, but I think we all have a pretty good idea. I was at three concerts where he was to perform within a year, finally got a full performance in the last one I attended (I believe at the Fillmore East, but it may have been a Schaeffer concert in the Park).
Van Morrison earned my contempt. Three years ago he played Toronto's Air Canada Center- wrong venue for the kind of band, lack of amplification or video screens - made the entire concert a strain. $150 a ticket didn't help.

He basically sang with his back to 20,000 people in between gulps out of a white plastic cup.

After barely an hour, he did a rousing version of Gloria, the audience finally happy, standing, clapping, singing along, thinking that the concert's finally going - and he walked off stage. No thank you, no encore, nothing.

He's a tool and doesn't know what the phrase to "give" a performance means. Love his music, but he blows as a performer. Takes your money and runs.
when i was living in sf in the early 90s, we drove three hours to some resort in the mountains to see the ex-byrd gene clark, who was opening for leon russell. we got there in time for the second show; the people who were leaving told us that clark was drunk as shit, but in good form. well, he started doing trays of bourbon shots during the show, maybe 20 or 30; i've never seen anyone drink as much and remain conscious. in between shots, he played a remarkably coherent set.
anyway, next day i read he was performing a mile or so from my house; when we got to the venue there was a sign posted (unsurprisingly) that he was ill and couldn't perform. next morning, i read he was dead.
Ozzy Osbourne/White Lion/Vixen Pine Knob July 89'. From the opening song you knew Ozzy would suck that night. When Ozzy performed a horrible "karaoke" version of Iron Man the remaining sober(included) fans begin to jeer. The band was not much better, were they all stoned? Could be a reason why so many fights broke out. The mens restroom could have doubled as a blood bank with all the blood splashed on the walls, floor and sinks. If memory serves me right Ozzy was in rehab and the tour was canceled within a month after this show.
Anyone ever see a GWAR show? They are always terrible, well both I saw were. Just plain bad sound, custumes (at the time) seemed to hamper playing ability but it was a freak show when I was in my late teens early twenties.
Dayglow. I know what you mean about Ozzy giving a karaoke version of Iron Man. I drove up to Montreal sometime in the 90's to see Black Sabbath's farewell tour. The entire band played perfectly with the exception of Ozzy's voice. I'll never forget that show because our hotel had a Molson vending machine on each floor and the Canadians were smoking black hash in front of security at the concert. I was so used to smelling pot at concerts, so to be at one with 20k fans filled with black hash smoke was totally new to me.
This is a great thread, people! Thanks! -- and keep 'em coming!

I've seen Lucinda grumpy and Jerry spacey, but sadly (or happily), I don't seem to have anything truly memorable to add.

I remember fearing for my life during a Johnny Winter concert at Madison Square Garden. The crowd rushed the stage and many were trampled on, bottles flew all over the place. We had second row seats and the crowd just pushed them over, I left with bruises on my ribs from being pressed against the wooden barricades. Johnny had to stop the show numerous times, pleading with the audience to calm down, threatened to leave for the saftey of all (who could blame him?). Johnny then played a beautiful slow blues tune, the crowd finally settled down, and the show went on.
All in all, just plain ugly!
I just remembered another couple of incidents. The first is slightly OT, but maybe close enough.

John Lennon hosted a concert at MSG in New York, called "One To One". It was the end of a day on which volunteers spent the day with disabled children and then had free seats to the show. As a result, the lower deck was reserved for the volunteers and kids.

Not surprisingly, some were moving slower than expected and, when the lights went down, the crowd surged into the empty seats that were supposed to be for the kids/volunteers. Geraldo Rivera (?!), who was hosting the event, announced:

"That's alright. Move on down, this is a democracy."

Bad way to start a show. Then, Yoko Ono played a set. As far as I could tell, nothing went wrong.....but I'd still rather sit thru many of the disasters described above than sit thru Yoko in top form.

Also at MSG, the "Bob Fest" tribute to Dylan. Lou Reed stood behind sheet music and/or lyrics and fumbled his way thru a (mercifully brief) set that he appeared completely unfamiliar with.

One word... Altamont.

"but I'd still rather sit thru many of the disasters described above than sit thru Yoko in top form."

I ask WHY?! WHY?! WHY?! WHY?!

Tpreaves, were you there?
Saw Sly and the Family Stone at the Electric Circus in 1968 - well, actually I didn't. They didn't show.
Saw the replacements at wash univ in St.Louis about 1988. They played in the school gym. Wasn't very familiar with them but had heard some good things. They all seemed pretty messed up during the show. Frequent rantings of f-school this and f-school that. Paul Westerberg didn't seem to be a fan of higher education.

Saw the who at the tangerine bowl in orlando, thanksgiving weekend 1982. The b-52s opened. That didn't go over well.
I went to see the Chambers Brothers in Boston sometime in the late 60's and only a couple of the "original" band members showed. I have seen a lot of concerts and this one rates at the top of the uninspired list.
I was supposed to go to a concert with a few friends,but didn't make it. Didn't care much for the band anyway, but they had a great story of what happened that night. Nine Inch Nails in Albany, NY in the early 90's...

The singer (Trent Reznor) was swining his mic around in a big circle (it was attached to a cable), and it hit the drummer in the head. They took a half hour or so break while the drummer got stitches. They came back on to finish their set, and about 10 minutes later, someone in the crowd threw something at the stage (they think it was a boot) which ended up hitting the drummer in the head again, opening up the cut that was just stitched. They called it a night after that.

Made me wish I didn't miss that one.
Notice that none of these disasters involve a classical musician or performance?
Entrope, classical music concerts have had their share of such incidences too. Stravinsky's premiere of: "The Rite Of Spring" is perhaps the most notable. More recently, Steve Reich's performance of "Four Organs" had one woman banging her head on the stage, yelling; "Stop, stop, I confess".
I saw Bowie's 1975 "Young Americans" tour.

He seemed just about as interested as the audience.

And that white suit.....LOL
I attended a performance by musical genius Hermeto Pascoal at NYC's Town Hall back in the late '80's. A couple of minutes into the third tune, he abruptly cut the band off and walked off stage; end of show. I spoke to one of his saxophonists later that night, and he told me that Hermeto was pissed-off that the audience was not being more attentive.

I was playing in the pit of the Broadway show "Showgun" during one of the preview performances. As the actor Phillip Casnoff was about to sing a number titled "Death Walk", a large screen which was part of the scenery fell and hit him on the head. The performance was, of course, stopped and Casnoff was rushed to the hospital.

During a performance of Janacek's "The Makropulos Case" at the Met Opera the tenor Richard Versalle was singing the role of Vitek. In the opening scene he climbs a ladder to retrieve a book off a shelf. As he sang the words "too bad you can only live so long", he suffered a fatal heart attack and fell to the floor on his back.
Nothing too memorable concerning a performance other than a crowd of non ticket holders trying to rush the door at the Spectrum during a Yes/Emerson Lake and Palmer concert in the early 70's. Philly's finest with the irrepressible Frank Rizzo at the helm were in full force knowing well that there was a demand for tickets that far exceeded supply. Clubs were weilded and the uprising was abruptly stopped in its tracks.

In the mid 70's at Tampa Stadium I was at a Fleetwood Mac concert when someone close to us on the ground got the idea to attach firecrackers on a supply of frizbees he had brought and light them prior to tossing them into the crowd. My girlfriend a nurse, became distressed watching this continue and went up to the guy, who was stone drunk, grabbed the frizbees and proceeded to distribute them to surrounding folks to throw to keep the guy from continuing. She then angrily lectured him about his irresponsible behavior, to little avail. She then tried to take the firecrackers when he pushed her down to the ground at which point several men restrained him and took the firecrackers. He was eventually removed by Security personnel.
Unsound, in the examples you cite it seems at classical perfomances it is the audience that goes awry not the performers.

Imagine Perlman to drunk to play or Pavarotti forgetting lyrics because the is stoned.
I agree with Entrope. One of the incredible things about classical is that the performers never give anything less than a faultlessly professional performance. :)
There are so many instances of classical music disaster stories. I have a great many of them myself. One of the funniest ones involves a trombone player who did not realize that the overture, which he did not play on, was very short, and he went deep into the basement of the hall to practice a little. A piano concerto was next on the program. Well, it took them TEN MINUTES to find the guy. In the meantime, the audience is just sitting there. Think about this - ten minutes is an excruciatingly long time for this to be happening. The conductor of course had gone offstage after the applause for the overture, and neither he or the soloist has come on. Finally, after this ten minutes of dead silence, the trombone player comes out on stage. Now he sat in the back row on a riser, and behind this riser was all the percussion equipment. The chairs on this back row were of the type that are all connected together. Now it so happened that BOTH of the back legs of this trombonist's chair were hanging off the back end of the riser, and no one had noticed this. Accordingly, again remembering that this is after ten minutes of dead silence, this trombonist finally comes on stage, sits down, and the entire row of chairs falls off the riser backwards, into all of the percussion equipment, with a horrendous noise. Amazingly, no one was hurt, and no instruments were damaged. But what a hilarious thing to happen after ten minutes of dead silence!!

I actually have my own very similar falling off a riser in a concert story, but it pales in comparison to that one. It was only my own chair, I wasn't hurt, and my horn was undamaged. I got up and waved to the audience.
"I agree with Entrope. One of the incredible things about classical is that the performers never give anything less than a faultlessly professional performance. :)"

Do you really think no classical musicians have drug and/or alchohol problems? They're human beings too, with their own set of problems like everyone else. That makes about as much sense as saying golfers don't have drug/alchohol/steroid issues the other sports have because it's a high society sport.

Maybe classical has far more 'functional addicts' than most other genres?
Kbarkamian, you are most definitely correct. I have known personally several orchestral musicians who were fired for drug or alcohol abuse.
Entope, I could be mistaken, but, I thought Pavarotti was booed for forgetting the lyrics. You might want to read Frank Zappa's book where he goes into some detail about suing the LSO for unprofessionalism.
We were at a three day outdoor music festival a few years ago , standing right in front of the stage , I told the wife that I was thirsty and was going back to the camper , her and my young daughter accompanied me , we had walked about half way back to where we were set up when the wind blew over a large column of speakers and the stage , killing a women and injuring many .
Needles to say the beer jokes will never end .
Learsfool, I'm sitting here alone in my basement unable to wipe the smile off my face. Your story made my night.
The Conductor of the Youngstown Symphony (we have season tics) told a story till kill time when a violin soloist broke a string. He said it was an Opera I cant recall but a performer is to be shot during anothers singing about events in the Opera, well he said the actor pointed the gun at wrong performer so the cast carried off the soloist while singing instead of the person who was supposed to be removed from stage.
It was a month or so ago I heard him tell that so hopefully I didnt confuse facts but it was a funny story during a uncomfortable mishap delay.
Crossed da border, eh, to see Iggy and the Stooges at the Windsor Ice Arena(?) back in '72(?). Iggy was Iggy - clad only in a silver glitter G-string, spitting on the crowd, acting a real wild child - when two members of the band started arguing with one another during a song. As the argument continued it eventually escalated into a knock down, fisticuff, brawl between the two right in mid-song. It was hilarious, the two rolling around on stage battling while the rest of the band tried to keep the song going. We decided it was time to leave then. Still had a great time though.

Same era different show, though this one only a near awry, Johnny Winter at Cobo Hall. The crowd got so rowdy (fights, flying beer bottles) they turned the house lights on, interrupting the show. A Cobo usher/manager got on stage and took over Johnny’s mic. He threatened to end the show if “we all” didn’t settle down. Johnny told him to get the f*** off the stage, regained possession of the mic stand and went into a blisteringly rocking song. The crowd turned even nuttier, of course. Depending on your perspective: Cobo Hall operators likely felt the show went awry; the audience had a great time, though it could have easily gone awry for us as well.
Aha! Fistfights among band members....forgot about that subgenre. Ray Davies vs. Dave Davies at The Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ on (IIRC) the "Schoolboys in Disgrace" tour. Brief, but notable. Nearly empty house, too.

Stranglers,(if memory serves) early 80's small club called Galactica 2000 in Sacramento. Enterprising group of hoods sent a couple of guys into a crawl space above the stage... they stomped through the ceiling and fell through while the band was playing... as the place went nuts, cohorts cleaned out the til and split... From what I'd heard the club was losing $$$ already and they closed down shortly afterwards.
Attended the Stones' "Steel Wheels" tour at Veteran's Stadium in Philly. Besides being far enough away that seeing the jumbotron was a struggle, witnessed a completely drugged out guy stomp the seat off of his chair and hurl it further down the stadium, which knocked out some poor lady. I was pretty irate and was moving to do something when the guy next to me told me to wait and watch. Security converged on the doofus from all sides and dragged him by his feet, head banging on the concrete steps out of the stadium. Everyone cheered. That was the last stadium rock show I ever attended.
Sinead O'Connor Great Woods Mansfield, MA Aug 18th 1990

The day before the concert, Sinead O'Connor breaks up with her boyfriend, who also happens to be opening for her on the tour. Ex-boyfriend and band are fired on the spot, leaving a pretty big hole in the show. Scrambling, the promoters book O Positive, a local Boston power pop band (and acquaintances of mine) to open and they do a great job, their first big break, the crowd appreciative. So far, so good.

Out comes Sinead, clearly still fuming over the breakup. This was right after her second album was released, and she was getting a lot of Top 40 radio airplay. The 12-14 year old girls were attending in droves, accompanied by their slightly puzzled parents. There is lots of screaming when Sinead sings any of her hits, which seems to make her even more angry. Right before the intermission, Sinead sits on a stool, the lights come down, and she starts in with "The Last Day of Our Acquaintance". As she goes through the song (check the lyrics online), you can see she's reaching her boiling point, and the last verse comes out as "But this is the last f--king day of our f--king acquaintance" and she's fairly spitting out the words, her face red with rage.

Parents are standing all over the venue, incredulous, first covering their daughter's ears, then grabbing their hands and making a mad rush for the exits. As Sinead repeats the last verse, now standing herself, spewing the same words as if poison, those of us who remain and understand what is happening rise to see her off for the intermission, a thunderous ovation for an artist baring her soul not as performance, but as real life, intersecting as a demolition derby with her art.

The second set was listless, uninspired, and Sinead apologized toward the end of the show. We gave her a standing ovation anyway; she deserved it. She gave us everything she had on that day, both good and bad. What more can you ask from an artist?

David. I love Sinead.Very talented performer and I own a lot of her music. Have you seen pictures of her lately? It looks like she discovered the McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese. I'm not sure if the new body style has had any effect on her voice. It just surprised me because she was always such a twig.