Last week, on the 101 freeway in downtown Los Angeles, a previously unknown rap-rock group called Imperial Stars stopped traffic so they could play an impromptu gig on the roof of a panel van. Appropriately, the Imperial doofuses performed a song titled "Traffic Jam 101." This über-lame, Airheads-worthy publicity stunt and the band's subsequent arrest got us thinking about the top five most outrageous musician stunts of all time. Click through for a complete rundown.
5. Hell on Earth Threatens Suicide on Stage
In the early part of this decade, Hell on Earth, an otherwise unremarkable metal band from Florida -- whose songbook includes charming titles like "Toilet Licking Maggot" and "Raped by the Virgin Mary" -- gained some notoriety when their plan to feature the on-stage suicide of a terminally ill man came to the attention of Florida police. Ostensibly intended to raise awareness of assisted suicide and right-to-die issues, the obvious publicity stunt (which was fortunately derailed) was absolutely appalling -- but perhaps no more so than some of the band's previous desperate acts, which included sex with dead animals on stage and encouraging fans to drink liquefied rat juice.
4. Janet Jackson's "Wardrobe Malfunction"
Few now living will forget where they were when Justin Timberlake tore off Janet Jackson's bustier -- exposing, for a brief, fleeting second, Jackson's right breast, adorned with a silver nipple shield -- during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII. Janet and the Timberlake were roundly condemned by religious zealots and over-protective parents, and CBS was subsequently fined by the FCC. Most of us didn't see what the big deal was.
3. Sex Pistols Play "God Save the Queen" From a Boat on the River Thames
The most infamous band in history celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee -- marking the 25th anniversary of her coronation -- and successfully promoted its new single, "God Save the Queen," by attempting to perform the vitriolic and vehemently anti-monarchical song aboard a ship on the River Thames. After passing by the Houses of Parliament, police forced the boat to dock and immediately surrounded the entourage. Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren and his cohort, punk fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, were promptly arrested, and "God Save the Queen" went on to become one of the greatest punk songs of all time, hitting number two on the U.K. singles chart.
2. Michael Jackson Dangles Infant Son From Hotel Window
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Whether it was a publicity stunt, a desperate cry for help or simply the beginning of the end, we will never know what compelled Michael Jackson to suspend his infant son, Prince Michael Jackson II (also known as "Blanket") from the fourth-floor window of a Berlin hotel room, bizarrely displaying the child to a horde of screaming fans gathered below. Widely criticized in the media, the King of Pop later apologized for the wacky incident, calling it "a terrible mistake."
1. Ozzy Bites the Head off a Bat
It's one of the most mythologized episodes in rock history. Here is what actually happened: After inking his first solo record deal, a heavily intoxicated Osbourne ostensibly planned to release a dove -- a gesture traditionally symbolic of peace -- but instead bit the bird's head off in front of horrified label executives. A few months later, at a concert in Des Moines, a fan tossed a live bat on stage, seemingly enticing Ozzy to repeat the demented act. Osbourne obliged, and the second beheading caused a massive public backlash. Initially claiming to have thought the bat was a rubber toy, Ozzy later stated in the liner notes to a 2002 reissue of his 1981 album Diary of a Madman that the bat was not only real and alive, but that it bit Osbourne while he performed the decapitation, requiring the Prince of Darkness to get a rabies shot.