It is a line often quoted in films as a way of ridiculing the stuffy ways of conservatism and their futile attempts to stand in the way of the liberating leather-clad boon of culture: “Stop playing that devil’s music.” However, there are some bands who seem to pride themselves on causing the sort of obvious carnage that makes a mockery of the old line “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist,” owing to a lack of subtlety.
From spine-curdling tales of on-stage accidents that seemed sadly as inevitable as the loss of Woody Harrelson’s hairline, to the madness of hijacked aircrafts, and the dark troubles of the condemnable side of rock’s nettlesome use of art as a sorry excuse for abhorrent behaviour. The world of rock ‘n’ roll has played host to a menagerie of manic behaviours. Hell, even David Bowie had his swimming exorcised by a witch when he wasn’t on stage.
Below we have compiled the wildest exponents of these dangerous behaviours. Some are in jest while others should be held over the coals for their disturbing actions. Nevertheless, we can learn a lot about the fringes of rock ‘n’ roll culture from these troubled tales of bands bringing forth danger like Dick Dastardly in the Formula 1.
The most dangerous bands in history:
Accidentally cutting off legs with circular saws, cutting a dead cat in half with a machete and smashing sheets of glass over audience members, Hanatarash are no ordinary lairy punks who crank the amp up to 11. Hanatarash, which is Japanese for snot-nosed, wanted to couple noise music with the punk antics of old. The result was less reassuring to health and safety officers than a Prince Andrew interview.
In one of their first live shows, frontman Yamantaka Eye carried a dead cat out on stage, although it is not clear from any of the dispatches how he came to be in possession of the aforementioned fatal feline, yet it is widely documented that he hacked it in half with a machete thereafter. If that was one of their first shows, then the old showbiz adage of ‘where do you go from there’ quickly comes to mind.
Ultimately the madness culminated when widespread venue bans were lifted and they returned in 1985. the audience tremored in a hush delirium of pure unabating terror, and, given that they were obviously the sort of people who would gladly go to such a show, a touch of excitement. They awaited the arrival of Eye, but he did not seem to materialise. Was he held up in traffic, or perhaps arrested and or sectioned? No, he was outside starting up the bulldozer, which he then proceeded to smash through the side of the venue in a grand entrance befitting of absolutely nobody.
The Sex Pistols lived a breathed on the premise of danger and destruction. This intent was announced in earnest on February 21st, 1976, as a piece in NME written by Neil Spencer ran with the headline: “Don’t look over your shoulder, but the Sex Pistols are coming.” Therein it documented tales of band members cavorting with half-dressed members of the public on stage, chairs and tables being utterly Chernobyled in a seeming mutiny against anything perceived as banal, and a Frenchman shouting to Steve Jones “you can’t play!” and the guitarist flippantly replying, “So what?”
In fact, they were so destructive that they eventually had to play under pseudonyms to stop the police from cancelling their shows. They performed under the names ‘S.P.O.T.S.’ (Sex Pistols Secretly on Tour), Tax Exiles, Special Guests, Acne Rabble, The Hamsters and A Mystery Band of International Repute.
However, it was in America when things finally took a turn towards the dower side of danger. The band were only allowed to play in the Deep South owing to their criminal pasts, and audiences didn’t care much for them there. Thus, the hostility was less mutual and Johnny Rotten ultimately opened the last gig saying, “You’ll get one number and one number only ’cause I’m a lazy bastard.”
If by any chance you’ve stumbled onto this piece not knowing who GG Allin is, then I would suggest that you take extreme caution when googling him in future. Aside from self-mutilation forming a key tenet of his act, coprophagia (or turd-eating in layman’s terms) was also a common entertainment technique espoused by the barely musical headcase. In short, he was a human shock machine akin to the lovechild of Frankenstein’s Monster and a generator station.
Usually seen nude from the neck down and covered in blood, the choker-wearing outsider punk greeted fans with as much debauchery as he possibly could. In fact, he even repeatedly claimed he would commit suicide on stage once he reached the peak of his powers. Naturally, it is despicable that the rebel was given a platform considering the heinous crimes he committed on stage and the threats he made to repeat them.
In the end, died of an accidental heroin overdose in 1993. A fate that seemed forecast from the day he was born and given the name Jesus Christ Allin. Below is simply a trailer for the Todd Phillips documentary, but even for that viewer discretion is advised.
Les Rallizes Denudes
Les Rallizes Denudes are one of the most fabled bands in history. There is no doubt that their output is certainly a trippy affair, but it isn’t quite the aggressive outsider fodder that you would usually associate with the most dangerous bands of all time. However, they were a key ingredient of Japan’s volatile counterculture movement, and it is this connection that adds a wild twist to their tale.
Their former bassist Wakabayashi Moriaki actually ended up hijacking an airliner in 1970 along with nine other students and demanded that the aircraft be flown to North Korea. At the time, he had recently joined The Red Army, an extremist communist group. The Japanese authorities pulled a rouse on the band and safely landed the aircraft in South Korea where the hostages were freed before the students realised the trick and flew off to North Korea with little other than themselves and a stolen aircraft.
Nevertheless, even though this failed folly only involved a former bassist, Les Rallizes Denudes were thrown under suspicion and an air of danger surrounded them which the authorities were quick to keep an eye on. This stigma stayed with the band who descended into secrecy, and everything about them was sporadic thereafter.
Any band with the musical mantra of “theistic Satanism” is likely to deal in danger like the banker in a game of Monopoly in Broadmoor. This, as it happens, is quite a fitting analogy given that Gorgoroth was mainly comprised of convicted felons. The Norwegian black metal band were certainly no shrinking violets.
Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, the band have taken his literary make-believe world a little bit too serious and incorporated impaled sheep heads and mock crucifixions in their live shows. This wild stance has also seen frontman Gaahl arrested for threatening to burn down a church.
His stance on the matter is neatly surmised in this statement: “We live in a Christian world and we have to speak their language … When I use the word ‘Satan’ it means the natural order, the will of a man, the will to grow, the will to become the superman and not to be oppressed by any law such as the church, which is only a way to control the masses.”
The Norwegian black metal scene proved to be somewhat of a cultural plague for the country in the past. In truth, ‘The Black Circle’ would only contain a few bands and a small cluster of people for a short period, but it would have lasting reverberations. It even helped to set off the satanic panic in America.
One such echoing incident occurred in 1991 when Per Yngve Ohlin, the frontman of the band Mayhem who went by the nickname of ‘Dead’, turned a shotgun on himself in a shared house and committed suicide. When discovered by Mayhem guitarist Euronymous, rather than immediately call the police, the musician inhumanely took graphic photographs (that later appeared on a bootleg sleeve for the band) and collected parts of his skull to make into a necklace and distribute around the scene.
This was a world away from America and an incident so extreme that it can barely be reconciled even amid the tiny fraction of members in the so-called ‘Black Circle’, nevertheless, it proved to be proof in an increasingly divided America that satanism was rife in pop culture.
The Stooges were the band where punk began, not just in sound but also in attitude. They were almost too incendiary for the music industry to house, thus within a few short years, their fuse burnt out in a blaze of absolute madness.
By February 1974, things were beginning to get a little too treacherous for the band to stay on a steady course and an incident with a Detroit biker gang, dubbed the Scorpions signified a dangerous portent for the band. The Stooges had been booked to play their local hangout, The Rock & Roll Farm in Wayne, Michigan. When Iggy emerged wearing only a skimpy leotard it was not to their liking.
What followed was a melee of abuse and a steady salvo of eggs. Bathed in a gloop of chicken zygote, Iggy decided not to follow his band’s lead in a scramble for safety and instead leapt into the crowd only to be promptly stopped in his tracks by a big old biker fist. Iggy, however, was not perturbed by this ordeal and in a paradigm of what the Stooges stood for, when he appeared on WABX radio to promote the band’s next show he actually challenged the Scorpions to an ill-advised rematch.
Black Sabbath were the early progenitors of metal, but in truth, the main threats they posed were to each other, and winged animals. After all, one animal beheading can perhaps be put down to an accident, but once you re-offend, well, frankly you’re a downright beheading fiend. This is the tale of the many beheadings of Ozzy Osbourne, the Prince of Darkness who Satan’s winged minions have ensured is barred from the gates of hell. But after orally decapitating two doves too, it’s not sure where the rocker will end up!
Everyone knows the tale of his famed Des Moines bat beheading, but it is one riddled with incredulities so let’s start by sifting through the myths and try to snatch some semblance of fact amid the mayhem. On January 20th, 1982, at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, a 5000-strong crowd witnessed the former Black Sabbath frontman scoop up a bat and chow down on its noggin.
The bat, contrary to popular belief, was most certainly not alive. How the hell could it be? It would fly off! A dead bat is far easier to fling. Sadly, for Ozzy, Mark Neal, the bat flinger in question, has stated that if anything it was a little bit past dead and moving on to the stage of becoming decayed matter. This is how pandemics start so its quite lucky that Sabbath are safely one of the more mundane bands on this list and not simply the most dangerous of all time.
The Birthday Party
“Managing The Birthday Party?” Mick Harvey humorously muses, “What is it they say about training cats?” Nick Cave’s first vehicle to stardom was a vehicle that was always headed towards a beautiful, flaming wreckage. Mick Harvey was the multi-instrumentalist tasked with harnessing the force of that head-slide without resulting in a write-off while also crafting the sound of the band. A truly impossible task that proved to be just that.
However, quite a lot of the danger involved was a classic case of being hoisted by your own petard. You see, the impending car crash finally loomed on the horizon for the band when a fateful poster was produced declaring The Birthday Party: “The most violent band in the world.” Now, they were holding the Molotov cocktail against the mainstream and then couldn’t let go of it. The result was an explosion of violence at their gigs, which a sober Harvey had to try to wrestle a lid on.
Gigs were besieged by thugs and neo-Nazi who took the poster at face value and the profound artistry of The Birthday Party was sullied beneath a slew of stompings and riots. As Nick Cave said of the time, “We had started to reject the initial in your face aggressive concept of The Birthday Party because we just had all these people coming along who were just there to fight.”
Lastly, The Kingsmen are a perfect paradigm for the pastiche of rock being the old school devil’s music. As we all know, If teenagers love one thing more than a bit of iconoclasm, then it’s the sort that comes with a federal stamp of disapproval. On the surface, ‘Louie, Louie’ might currently reside as that slurring 1960s garage rock song your uncle sings at a wedding, but beyond the groove, catchy riff, and scream-along chorus, the FBI ensured that the track entered the annals of rock ‘n’ roll history, by subjecting it to an 18-month investigation and sealing its fate as the most misunderstood song ever recorded.
The whys and wherefores of the song’s slack-jawed sound are all answered by the shoddy recording process that the youngsters had to go through to get their single pressed. It sounds unintelligible because that’s what $50 and a shady producer gets you. However, the FBI thought there must surely be more to it than meets the eye, and because the lyrics couldn’t be understood, J. Edgar Hoover and his cronies believed the youth were in revolt and there was some sort of subversive Soviet code hidden in the sonic jangling.
Thus, Hoover responded by deploying FBI agents to tirelessly listen to the song over and over for 18-months at various different speeds and frequencies. The conclusion that the FBI reached following their investigation, which also involved a spy ghosting the young band when they embarked on a tour, was that there was simply no knowing what the hell they were trying to say. However, if you play it at exactly 3…[End].