Musicians Who Are Notorious Nightmares On Tour

Touring can be traumatizing. Musicians spend hours cooped up in buses and drab hotel rooms, swatting away the advances of obnoxious fans, all while feverishly missing their loved ones at home. Of course, we all have our own ways of coping, and some stars decompress by smashing up their hotel rooms, performing blacked-out drunk, bickering with bandmates, and writing insidiously entitled requests into their riders. Yes, some musicians want to follow every cliché in the Rock N' Roll Rulebook, and they've demonstrated they can be certifiable holy terrors while performing on the road.

When Ozzy Osbourne wasn't too busy biting off bat heads, he was hanging out with Mötley Crüe and snorting long lines of ants. Oasis reportedly delighted in smashing up their hotel rooms, snorting crystal meth before gigs, fighting onstage, and getting their teeth knocked out by German police officers. Meanwhile, Madonna would allegedly be horribly mean to her dancers, while Mariah Carey just wanted to make sure her dressing room was stocked with $200 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and "bendy straws." Van Halen? Led Zeppelin? How much time do you have, exactly?

Here are some musicians who are notorious nightmares on tour. Hit it.

​Guns N' Roses are touring terrors

The proverbial jungle is apparently full of jerks. Judging by some rough on-the-road stories compiled by Rolling Stone, legendary hard rock band Guns N' Roses are notoriously ill-behaved on tour. On Aug. 28, 1989, lead shrieker Axl Rose, who has a tragic real-life story, holed himself up in a Japanese hotel room and wouldn't speak to anyone for several days, much like a petulant teen. During a North American tour, Rose was a no-show at a Philadelphia concert on Dec. 6, 2002. The rumor was he'd stayed in New York to watch a Knicks game, so furious fans rioted, with disgruntled audience members throwing seat cushions and even Christmas trees at the stage. To no avail, of course.

If it's violent antics you crave, we've got you covered. During a St. Louis show on June 2, 1991, Rose reportedly became angry that someone was taking unauthorized photos in the front row, so he stage-dived to beat the guy down. Rose then stormed off, hurdling his mic, and sparking a riot (and a lifetime ban in St. Louis). During an Atlanta show on Nov. 20, 1987, Rose punched a security guard in the face. And when a businessman in a Chicago hotel lobby told Rose he was a Jon Bon Jovi look-a-like in December 1987, he punched that dude, too. 

In the end, maybe Axl Rose locking himself in his room is a best-case scenario.

Can you live through Courtney Hole live?

Musicians trashing hotel rooms is a time-honored tradition, and Courtney Love clearly helped keep that legacy alive. Of course, she had her own unique take on this clichéd practice, which boiled down to just being really unsanitary. While staying at the Inn on Irving Place in Manhattan in 2009, Love left quite an unseemly mess behind, according to the New York Post. Her abandoned room was reportedly festooned with debris, including "dirty needles" and tossed-aside "feminine-hygiene products." A remarkably chill source opined: "She caused so much damage in eight hours and wreaked so much havoc. It was actually kind of funny." 

Less funny: Courtney Love's June 2010 concert at D.C.'s 9:30 Club. A review in The Washington Post wasn't exactly a glowing recommendation, with reports that the concert was an almost three-hour long medley of incomplete songs, all performed while Love stared into an iPhone brandished by her assistant. Incoherent monologues bracketed many tunes, and a steady stream of paying customers fled the venue in a huff and a hurry, despite paying $45 a ticket. Those who stayed behind reportedly took to yelling, "Bulls**t! This is bulls**t!" As if that wasn't enough, Love also allegedly asked a woman in the audience: "Do you really like rock music? Because you're African American. That would be like me being into Lil Wayne."

As for her singing? The Washington Post's David Malitz summed it up thus: "Her voice sounded as if something had died in her throat." 

Ozzy Osbourne snorts ants and eats bats

Mötley Crüe and Ozzy Osbourne on tour together ... What could possibly go wrong? According to Complex, Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee claims that, after a night of heavy drinking and snorting truckloads of cocaine during a 1984 tour, Osbourne noticed a steady stream of ants gathered outside the tour bus, fell to the ground, and decided to snort each and every ant up his nose through a straw. 

And although the following story has been flapping around for years now, it would probably be remiss not to include it: As the New York Post reports, Ozzy Osbourne instantly entered the annals of rock lore during a maniacal 1982 concert at the Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa. A fan reportedly thought it wise to throw a live bat onto the stage, and Osbourne thought it was actually a fake bat ... perhaps a rubber toy. So the rocker did what any of us would do when faced with a fake bat: He immediately bit off its head. 

"My mouth was instantly full of this warm, gloopy liquid, with the worst aftertaste you could ever imagine," he wrote in his memoir, I Am Ozzy (via the New York Post). And the worst was yet to come: Osbourne spent the remainder of his tour getting a whole bunch of rabies shots. What's more rock n' roll than that? 

​Never go on tour with Madonna

Remember in 1991's Truth or Dare, when Madonna prayed with her dancers, helped them through their trials and tribulations, and thus established herself as a patron saint of the disenfranchised? Well, we really hate to break this to you, but that may have all been for the cameras. 

The New York Post reports that Madonna "abandoned" most of those dancers once the tour wrapped. "Things come to an end abruptly," said dancer Jose Gutierez. "And you don't prepare for it." Another source said Madonna can be quite difficult with her crew if there's some sort of disagreement: "If she doesn't fire them, she's been known to freeze them out: the glacial stares can be very hard to tolerate."

It sounds like this behavior could be something of a trend. Yet another source told Radar Online that Madonna is majorly difficult behind the scenes and basically treats her dancers like crap. The source claimed she worked everybody way too hard during her 2015 Rebel Heart Tour, to the point that "the dancers declared mutiny on Madonna. ... One dancer even went so far as to take off his credentials, throw it in her face and say, 'F**k you. I quit!'"

This source also claimed Madonna voiced no concern and "had a nuclear meltdown" when a dancer broke an arm during rehearsal. Meanwhile, "everyone is required to wear black head-to-toe at all times." Worst of all, Madonna allegedly said that "no fat c*nts [are] allowed in her presence."

​Gene Ween's drunken disaster

Ween fans were no doubt devastated when Rolling Stone broke the news on May 29, 2012 that one of its two founders, Aaron Freeman (otherwise known as one Gene Ween), was effectively "retiring." The deadpan, stylistically shapeshifting outfit Ween — who had unexpectedly become MTV darlings with the 1992 single "Push th' Little Daisies" — was no more. According to Consequence of Sound, Freeman's bandmates were just as surprised as fans to hear the news. 

Apparently, the pressures of touring had taken its toll on Freeman in the form of drug and alcohol dependence, culminating at a Vancouver show on Jan. 24, 2011, that will forever live in infamy. The concert found Freeman otherwise disengaged from reality, slurring, occasionally sitting down on stage, messing up lyrics, and at one point murmuring, "Sorry if your panties are in a bunch." The concert ended shortly after the rest of the frustrated band abandoned him on stage. Reviewing the show, Straight's Mike Usinger sniped, "Freeman stood there like a drunk simpleton who couldn't, despite his best efforts, figure out how to keep time on a tambourine." The audience — roughly 3,000 people, who'd each paid $50 per ticket — was furious. 

After Freeman had a stint in rehab and spent some time teaching music in Woodstock, N.Y., Ween ultimately reformed. The band still plays live on the regular, smashing guitars against amps, and treating audiences to impromptu mandolin moments. For fans, this is definitely cause for celebration.

​Mariah Carey's crazy tour demands

Pop wunderkind Mariah Carey excels at all manner of divadom, but she reportedly really pours her heart and soul into concocting absurd demands on her tour riders. According to The Smoking Gun, Carey demands to be served Cristal champagne backstage, which she will then proceed to drink deliciously through "bendy straws," so better keep those on hand. (In a subsequent rider, she requested a $200 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon instead, because she's apparently expanding her horizons.) 

Also important: Please make sure Carey's dressing room is garlanded in two dozen white roses and stocked with pungent vanilla aromatherapy candles. And please, whatever you do, make sure her "living room space" isn't sullied with "busy patterns," but do note that "black, dark grey, cream, dark pink are all fine." While you're at it, kindly ensure Carey's room remains at "about 75 degrees." Oh, and a "lamp or clip light" should be installed the bathroom so that "harsh lighting may be turned off" at Carey's discretion.

Perhaps Carey should pour some of this boundless creativity into her live show, as evidenced by her underwhelming Las Vegas residency. According to a report in the Mirror, fans were particularly upset to find Carey on autopilot during a July 2017 concert, actually whistling her way through parts of her 2002 hit, "I Know What You Want." 

Van Halen: No Brown M&Ms, yes alcohol

According to Rolling Stone, Van Halen's on-again, off-again lead singer David Lee Roth really brought the drunken dysfunction to the 1983 US Festival for Heavy Metal Day. As Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak recalled in his memoir, Woz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon, Roth was all but "falling down" during his performance: "He was so drunk, slurring and forgetting lyrics and everything" (via Rolling Stone.) In the oral history I Want My MTV, VJ Mark Goodman confirms this: "He was drunk and coked up, laughing at every joke he made." 

But it wasn't just Roth. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, guitarist Eddie Van Halen was equally out-of-it throughout much of the band's disastrous 2004 reunion tour. Offstage, he'd reportedly gulp wine from the bottle, was "unkempt" and "frighteningly skinny", collapsed several times backstage, and descended into new depths of alcohol addiction. Meanwhile, fellow bandmates doubled down on the infighting and drama — to the point that everybody flew around in different jets, according to occasional lead singer Sammy Hagar (via Ultimate Classic Rock.) The tour's last stop was, in Hagar's words, "the worst show we'd ever done," with Van Halen reportedly smashing his guitar and crying out to the crowd, "You don't understand!" 

We should also probably mention the band's notorious 1982 contract rider, which, according to Snopes, requested "M&M's (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES)." Apparently, this wasn't just a fanciful request included as a provision to ensure the contract was actually being read.

​Oasis: The messiness was no mirage

Oftentimes, interpersonal drama between bandmates seems trumped-up for the sake of gossip, but the sibling rivalry between Oasis' Noel and Liam Gallagher appears to be informed by genuine acrimony. As Rolling Stone reports, the bad blood was flowing as early as 1994, the year they released their debut, Definitely Maybe. The music mag claims crystal meth was to blame for a miserable show at L.A.'s fabled Whisky a Go Go because band members had "misused" the drug. (As of press time, we're confident there's absolutely no way to properly use crystal meth.) This particular concert found Liam smashing Noel with a tambourine and barging offstage before the performance was officially over. Noel reportedly quit the tour the next day, but rejoined the band after he had some time to think.

Other touring fiascoes include (but are by no means limited to): Oasis canceling the remainder of another U.S. tour in 1996 due to "internal difficulties," and Liam getting two teeth knocked out of his face after a drunken brawl with German police in 2002. That particular incident forced management to cancel a concert date in Munich because Liam and a few equally disorderly members of the band and crew were reportedly in jail.

Unwilling to leave any dubious rockstar cliché unturned, Oasis also reportedly trashed a room at the Columbia Hotel in 1994. Regarding that snafu, Noel quipped: "Those plate-glass windows were just saying, 'Throw a chair through me.'"

​Kanye West live? You take your chances

Nobody expects a Kanye West concert to be predictable, but a handful of shows during his Saint Pablo Tour went particularly off the rails. As Pitchfork reports, on Nov. 17, 2016, West spent a hefty chunk of his concert in San Jose, Calif. waxing poetic on politics. "I told y'all I didn't vote, right?" he reportedly crowed. "But if I would've voted, I would've voted on Trump." One fan claimed his speech consumed an hour of concert time.

Two nights later, on Nov. 19, West pulled a similar stunt at a concert in Sacramento, Calif. This time, West regaled the crowd with a roughly 15-minute rant that touched upon everyone from Jay Z to Hillary Clinton to Mark Zuckerberg, and back again. (Sample rant: "We've got a hundred years out here ... and we can have a utopia. We can love each other. But the rules gotta be fair.") Meanwhile, highly annoyed fans live-tweeted the whole affair. "People in the crowd look shocked," commented one fan, adding that "disappointed" patrons were beginning "to leave the arena." West followed suit: He reportedly ended the show 30 minutes after it started. 

As TMZ reports, West subsequently canceled his remaining Saint Pablo tour dates due to suffering a "nervous breakdown."

Led Zeppelin practically invented nightmarish tours

During the course of the average lifespan, no mere mortal could catalog every act of atrocity Led Zeppelin ever perpetrated on tour, so we'll just give you a few highlights. 

According to the Independent, motorcycles were purchased for the express purpose of speeding down hotel hallways. Meanwhile, chairs were thrown against walls, while TVs and couches went through hotel windows. As the lore goes, band manager Peter Grant was ponying up for some damage expenses when a hotel manager waltzed up and confessed he always wanted to throw a TV out a window. "Here," Grant reportedly said, handing the aspiring rogue a hefty pile of cash. "Have one on me."

The band reportedly participated in countless orgies and bedded innumerable groupies during its reign. As Rolling Stone reports, one particularly sordid scene — which allegedly went down at the Edgewater Inn, following a show at the Seattle Pop Festival in 1969 — involved unspecified members of the band, a "pretty young groupie," and a mud-shark. 

According to Rock Bottom by Pamela Des Barres, Jimmy Page would often dress in Nazi regalia and head out to "transvestite clubs," where he'd do lots of drugs with drag queens. Page reportedly repeated this ritual in every city Led Zeppelin passed through (via the Independent.) If things ever got "too out of hand," a tour manager would take Page back to his hotel and "chain him to the toilet — with a groupie, if it was his lucky day."