Gordon Smart on the intrigue of the rock'n'roll "no-show"

4 May 2020, 18:19 | Updated: 4 May 2020, 18:46

An empty stage, yesterday
An empty stage, yesterday. Picture: Arnulf Diegel/EyeEm/Getty Creative Images
Gordon Smart

By Gordon Smart

Having forgotten to file his Isolation Diary last week, Gordon looks at how some artists have made not turning up into an art form.

I’ve got a confession.

No, it’s nothing to do with that “silly misunderstanding” at the Radio X Christmas party with Toby Tarrant and that bag of satsumas.

I forgot to file my Isolation Diary on Friday.

In fact, I forgot it was Friday and whether or not time is indeed the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present and into the future. 

I’m not the only one to drop the ball, or slip out of major responsibility.

Guns N Roses performing live at the Milton Keynes Bowl, 1993
Guns N Roses performing live at the Milton Keynes Bowl, 1993. Picture: Brian Rasic/Getty Images

Axl Rose of Guns’N’Roses made it an art form.

My favourite story about the great man was on the eve of a world tour when he decided he didn’t fancy it. As you can imagine, the G'N'R juggernaut is tricky to turn around at that stage. You can’t un-ring the bell.

Somewhere in the world a stadium was ready for his arrival along with tens of thousands of fans. All the tickets bought and paid for. All the merch ready to go and a fair amount of hotdogs warmed and lager ready for pouring. 

So the promoters had to coax Axl out the house. He was promised a supercar for every date he completed. 18 months later after the shows were done, his long driveway was full of fancy motors. Or so the story goes.

Weezer in 2001, after Rivers Cuomo's leg operation...
Weezer in 2001, after Rivers Cuomo's leg operation... Picture: Paul Natkin/WireImage/Getty Images

The rock’n’roll no-show has become something of intrigue to me. 

It was triggered around 1995 when Rivers Cuomo cancelled gigs because he was having the length of his leg altered. His left leg was shorter than his right by about 44mm, so he had surgery right in the middle of their first wave of huge global success - and missed shows in the process.

From that day on, my self-penned sick notes for school never seemed creative enough.

Damon Albarn once confessed to me off air that a no-show for one of their gigs many moons ago was more to do with exuberance at the hotel bar than a genuine medical emergency...

Damon did tell me that he was once a no-show for Prince who had asked him to Minneapolis for a recording session - on the condition he didn’t smoke or drink. So Damon didn’t bother going...

Ask Morrissey fans about the confidence in his gigs going ahead when you buy a ticket for a solo show and you’ll see the expression of a confused Cocker Spaniel. 

I was a big fan of the Sex Pistols refusing to show up to be inducted into the rock’n’roll hall of fame in 2006. They did send a letter though.

It read: “Next to the SEX PISTOLS, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain. Your museum. Urine in wine. We’re not coming. We’re not your monkey and so what? Outside the shit-stem is a real SEX PISTOL.”

Let’s not forget though, it’s not just musicians who pull sickies. 

A hell-raising DJ, who is very familiar with the big green X, once phoned in and apologised for missing his show, only to be told, “But you were here? On air. It was great.”

Not guilty.