Strange behavior has never harmed the careers of music stars – however much they were condemned by the media.
When Michael Jackson hung his child Prince Michael II over a hotel balcony in Berlin in 2002 the media around the world were appalled, but Jacko’s fans devotion never seemed to waver.
Britney, the One-Woman Dallas
Britney Spears’s life became a one-woman soap opera. A life so surreal it made the Bobby dream in Dallas seem almost a normal event by comparison. Thankfully, Britney seems to have calmed down these days – or maybe the media just became exhausted.
The music genius Phil Spector had ‘form’ for unstable behavior, even before he was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in 2009. When Spector produced John Lennon’s Rock ‘n’ Roll album, the great producer waved a loaded gun in Lennon’s direction. Spector, typical of many who are touched by genius, was probably indulged too much by the music industry. The analogy is akin to a dictator getting their own way for years, and ending up increasingly more out of control.
John Lennon himself was not averse to behavior which was deemed strange by many – albeit for a good cause. His bed-ins with new wife Yoko Ono in 1969 were media events for peace, particularly in bringing attention to the Vietnam War.
A Boy Named Zowie
Music stars are often not satisfied with merely eccentric behavior, but happily lumber their children with names which have a touch of A Boy Named Sue about them. Frank Zappa’s daughter Moon Orbit and David Bowie’s son Zowie were two examples of names, which if Joe Public had come up with them, would have probably resulted in mental health checks. Zowie decided that the mundane Duncan Jones would be easier to live with. Though, to be fair, Chris Martin’s Apple and Moses are rather inspired names. I wonder if the Coldplay’s frontman’s spouse, Gwyneth Paltrow, called the shots on those names. Anyway, I can’t wait for the arrival of Banana Martin.
Prince, of course, decided even a name wasn’t really relevant when in a battle with his then record company Warner Bros., so his autograph became a squiggle. Rappers, of course, can’t be serious rappers without a funny name – the Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, Ice Cube, Ice-T, and the ever pretentious Diddy, P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, Puffy, whatever…
Some music stars act in a strange, if unspectacular way, all the way through their careers. The recently late, lamented Captain Beefheart being a case in point.
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When Brian Scared Iggy
Beach Boy Brian Wilson hid in his bedroom for two years. Pushed by a dominant father into producing more and more great music, Wilson imploded. Wilson’s mental state deteriorated to such an extent that the seemingly unshockable Iggy Pop was horrified, when a young man, at seeing the state of the Beach Boy legend. Pink Floyd’s singer/guitarist Syd Barrett’s own mental deterioration exceeded even Wilson’s, and he once decided to walk the sixty miles home to Cambridge from London.
Fearsome Jamaican singer Grace Jones, an unlikely clergyman’s daughter, famously cuffed English TV chat show host Russell Harty for not paying attention to her when she was speaking. The unfortunate Harty also faced the nerve-wracking moment when madcap Who drummer Keith Moon stripped down to his underpants. Keith raised hell with John Lennon and the brilliant vocalist Harry Nilsson in the 1970s, and wasn’t shy of walking around wearing little more than a smile.
Ray Davies of the Kinks once realized that sometimes women aren’t all they seem – especially when stubble gives the game away. Like any songwriter would, Davies turned the experience into a song – Lola.
Perhaps if music celebrities led dull lives, their music would be equally dull. We’d also miss the soap opera!