The most ill-advised things your favourite rock stars have done

16 January 2024, 09:00

Oh, Macca. 16 January 1980 and Paul McCartney is arrested at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport when 8 ounces of marijuana is found in his luggage.
Oh, Macca. 16 January 1980 and Paul McCartney is arrested at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport when 8 ounces of marijuana is found in his luggage. Picture: Bettman/Getty Images
Radio X

By Radio X

Rock stars usually mean well, but sometimes they get a little carried away. And that results in bad things happening...

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  1. Paul McCartney - Being caught trying to take drugs into Japan

    In January 1980, Macca was due to play a huge tour of Japan with his band Wings. However, pot-lovin' Paul had - for reasons unknown - decided to stash take eight ounces of cannabis in his luggage. The strict Japanese customs found it immediately and Paul faced seven years max in the clink. "I don't know why I did it," he said later. "I was stupid." Cynics claimed he was framed by John and Yoko, but that's just an unfounded rumour. Bad Paul.

    Paul McCartney: Paul's Arrest In Tokyo

  2. U2: giving your new album away on iTunes

    Towards the end of 2014 U2 made a bold, brave decision to give away their latest record, Songs Of Innocence, away for free on iTunes. But more than just giving it away, they automatically zapped it into half a billion peoples iTunes accounts, without asking. The result? A huge backlash against the band and Bono had to apologise. OOPS.

    U2 new album 'Songs of Innoncents' free on iTunes

  3. MGMT: Asking for a "shoe shower"

    "That's probably a bad idea." Yes, you might be right there MGMT. At the US Open Of Surfing Festival in 2011 MGMT invited fans to throw their left shoe onto the stage, presumably to make things more psychedelic. The fans obliged, and a shower of flip-flops and trainers rained down on the band delaying the start of the show. A very silly idea indeed.

    MGMT shoe shower at US Open of Surfing 2011

  4. New Order - buying your own nightclub

    After performing in New York clubs in 1981, the Manchester band - and their label, Factory - thought they'd try and bring some of that urban cool back to their hometown. The result was a disaster, as detailed in Peter Hook's book: How Not To Run A Club. Meagre audiences and huge monetary losses gave way to huge crowds as the house scene gained momentum, but with success came gangsters, drugs and bloodshed. The club finally closed in 1997, with Hook claiming they had lost up to £18 million.

    Hacienda: Legendary Manchester Nightclub

  5. Depeche Mode: taking Primal Scream on tour with you

    Who could have foreseen Basildon's finest exponents of electropop getting on so well with the debauched rock 'n' roll mavericks Primal Scream? Well, they did, when the two bands toured the US together in 1994. The hard-partying Scream were probably not the best bandmates for the Mode's singer Dave Gahan, who was struggling with a burgeoning heroin addiction. Two years later, Gahan was in such a sorry way, he was technically declared dead for two minutes. Thankfully, he's better now.

    Dave Gahan & Primal Scream - Loaded (live)

  6. Happy Mondays: recording your latest album in the crack capital of the world.

    Factory were just no good with money. In 1991, the label's head Anthony H. Wilson sent the group off to Barbados to record the follow-up to the successful Pills 'N' Thrills and Bellyaches. This was a very silly thing to do: recovering heroin addict Shaun Ryder managed to break his bottle of methadone before they'd left Manchester airport and their ultimate destination was the world's No 1 centre for crack. As band members started to sell studio equipment to buy more drugs, the resultant album, Yes Please!, was such a mess that Factory had to file for bankruptcy soon after its release.

    Happy Mondays - Sunshine And Love