The worst decisions in the history of rock

1 May 2020, 20:47 | Updated: 1 May 2020, 20:51

David Bowie in The Man Who Fell To Earth
David Bowie in The Man Who Fell To Earth. Picture: Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

Sometimes the music gurus don't get it right. Other times, audiences don't recognise talent when they see it. Let's recall the instances when hindsight is a wonderful thing.

  1. David Bowie: his music not good enough for the movies!

    Enlisted by director Nicholas Roeg to play the alien title character in the 1975 film The Man Who Fell To Earth, Bowie was under the impression that he was to provide the soundtrack to the movie and recorded a number of tracks for that purpose. However, contractual disputes, plus a feeling from Roeg that it wasn't what he was looking for meant that the tracks weren't included in the film. Bowie later sent Roeg a copy of his 1977 album Low, saying "This is what I wanted to do for the film." Low is widely acknowledged to be one of the most influential albums of all time.

  2. The Rolling Stones: not representing at a generation-defining event!

    As hundreds of thousands of young people gathered in New York state in August 1969 to celebrate the Woodstock festival, one of the key bands of the era was conspicuous by their absence. The Stones were not present as Mick Jagger was shooting a film in Australia - the life story of the Aussie outlaw Ned Kelly, which received awful reviews. Instead, they set up their own free festival at the Altamont racetrack near San Francisco that December, and we all know how THAT ended up...

  3. The Smiths: not signed!

    In 1982, Steven Morrissey invited Factory Records label boss Tony Wilson round to his house to announce that he'd formed a band and was all set to become a pop star. Wilson later commented: "I thought, there is much chance of that as a squadron of pigs flying over the Pennines. I thought Steven was going to be our novelist or playwright." Wilson politely declined the opportunity to sign The Smiths, as Factory was in something of a rut between the end of Joy Division and the release of New Order's Blue Monday: "I didn't want to lumber him and The Smiths with our crappy record label," he explained. The band signed to Rough Trade instead and Johnny Marr now says that the band would have gone with Factory "over his dead body".

  4. Tim Burton: ignored!

    While they were recording the classic album Disintegration, The Cure were sent a script with a view to recording a soundtrack for it. They'd never heard of the director, so they passed on the offer. The movie? Edward Scissorhands. Danny Elfman's ethereal scoer is quoted in commercials to this day.

  5. The Beatles: rejected by some old bloke

    "Guitar groups are on the way out," said Dick Rowe, A&R man with the Decca label, after listening to the Fab Four's demo tape in 1962. A year later, they were the biggest group in Britain, a year after that and they were the biggest group in the WORLD. The Beatles ushered in a golden age of guitar music, prompting millions to take up the instrument and form groups of their own.

  6. Jimi Hendrix: unappealing to the kids!

    One of the strangest pairings of support act and headliner occurred in July 1967 when a young Jimi Hendrix and his Experience were invited to open for the new boy band on the block, The Monkees, on a tour of the US. Manufactured for a TV show, the Monkees' audience consisted mainly of young girls not ready for Hendrix's revolutionary concoction of blues, psychedelia and sexual swagger, even though the boys themselves loved Hendrix and personally invited him on the tour. The JHE lasted a mere six shows before Jimi wangled his way out of the contract.

  7. Pixies: too weird for Disney!

    When the Pixies reunited in 2004 after a decade apart, they were approached to write a song for the title sequence of the fairy tale comedy film Shrek 2, which was due for release later that year. The resulting track, Bam Thwok was written by bassist Kim Deal and was the band's first new material since 1991's Trompe Le Monde album. However, DreamWorks, who produced Shrek 2, rejected the song and it was released as a stand-alone track via iTunes instead.

  8. Kaiser Chiefs: not appreciated in their former incarnation!

    Before they struck gold with the album Employment and the hits Oh My God and I Predict A Riot, the Chiefs were known as Parva and released an LP in 2003 called 22. However, their label, Mantra, was closed not long after its release, leaving the band without a deal. Ricky Wilson has now become a primetime Saturday night TV star and Employment has gone six times platinum in the UK.