Rock and Roll’s history is full of stories about unusual names, crazy antics by musicians, and hilariously wild and weird instances of all kinds. In its better days, when rock gods ruled our hearts and mind with their musicianship and onstage persona rock n roll has turned many pages good, bad and ugly. Here are some of the excerpts:-
1. What’s in a name! Guns and Roses have been one of the most popular rock bands of all time, known for the revival of mainstream rock at a time when it was getting its ass kicked by dance music and pop-metal. The romantic-sounding name of the band, however, has nothing to do with Rock n Roll ethos or guns or roses or anything remotely ironical. The name is actually derived from last names of lead singer Axl Rose and founder member Tracii Guns, who left the band after a while.
Well; good for them because other probable names for the band included ‘Heads of Amazons’ and ‘AIDS’. Cannot picture AIDS rolling off our tongues like GnR does!
And yes, Axl Rose is an anagram for Oral Sex. The guy’s real name is William Bailey.
2. The man who hated long haired boys! Well, while we are discussing band names, what can be cooler than Lynyrd Skynyrd? First time I heard that name, I honestly thought it was a German expletive (no vowels).
But, Lynyrd Skynyrd is actually inspired by a person’s name, not German. It is a mocking tribute to Gary Rossington’s schoolteacher Leonard Skinner who harbored a serious vendetta against boys with long hairs. Our would- be rock star had to drop out of the school to protect his lush locks.
Well, thank heavens for Mr. Skinner, because the band was previously called ‘The Noble Five.’ (Seriously!)
So, our beloved Ozzy Osbourne once decided to gobble up a supposedly fake bat thrown at him during a concert that later turned out to be real. Later there was a big media frenzy over this incident while the organizers are vehemently denying that the bat was real. Whatever be the truth behind it, has never come to light, and Ozzy remains a bat eater to this day according to rock lore.
A similar incident happened with rocker Alice Cooper. An unsuspecting chicken was killed during a concert, and the word got out in media that Cooper has played Reaper to the poor chicken. The notoriety this incident brought him introduced Cooper to the power of Shocking theatrics over the public imagination, and ‘shock rock’ was invented.
4. My best friend’s girl! Layla, Eric Clapton’s most acclaimed song and one of the most celebrated rock ballads is inspired from the tale of Layla and Manjnu, an Arabic story about unrequited love of man for a woman who is basically out of poor bastard’s reach.
Well, it appears that our Mr. Clapton was having a Layla-Manjnu moment of his own. This song was written for Patty Boyd, wife of guitarist George Harrison who was also a good friend of Clapton, in hope that he could steal her from Harrison.
Well, this effort did not get Mr. Clapton the girl at that time, obviously but got him a chart-topper and a cult classic. The twist in the tale is that they finally ended up getting married in 1979 after she divorces Harrison in 1977.
5. A sibling’s advice! The name AC/DC was suggested to Young brothers by their sister Margaret, who saw the customary AC/DC logo at the back of a vacuum cleaner. The name appealed to the brothers because it had ‘something’ to with Talk about serendipity.
Angus Young’s now famous onstage school uniform was also suggested by Margaret. The get up became popular and Young added it to his signature repertoire.
Heed your sibling’s advice people, it could be really useful!
He liked to provoke producers, show organizers and fans with his antics and once managed to piss off even the French Government by playing a psychedelic version of La Marseilles.
Purple Haze was written after he dreamt of being underwater, and it uses a Triton that is called wait-for-it Diablo in Music (Devil in Music). No wonder devil took the guy.
Yes, we are talking about the colorful true blue rock n roll kid Jimi Hendrix. By the Way, he was a die-hard Batman fan and liked to address his drummer as Robin. Now you know why he used to wear capes to the shows.
7. The day the music died! Waylon Jennings was Buddy Holly’s bass player. He once rejected an offer in 1959 to fly with Holly on his chartered plane because he was shit scared of flying, opted for a bus instead. The seat went to JP Richardson.
Holly told Jennings jokingly, ‘I hope you freeze on that bus.’
Waylon coolly replied, ‘I hope your plane crashes.’
Well, the twist to the tale is that the shit got real, and the plane crashed taking three great musicians with them. The day is famously known as the day the music died.
8. To play or not to play
The Beatles’ Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Queen’s another one bites the dust
Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ on heavens’ door
Elton John’s Rocket Man
Wings’ Live and let die
Hollies’ he ain’t heavy he is my brother
John Lennon’s Imagine
What is common to these songs except that they are all cult rock classics? Well, all of them were on an advisory list of songs, to be avoided by playing by Radio Stations in the aftermath of 9/11. The list is a much larger one with every favorite song related to death, destruction, airplanes, heaven, New York, September and Tuesday featuring on it. The list also includes “Stairway to Heaven.’
9. Iron Man! Apart from being a comic character turned cheesy to death on big screen, it is also a popular song by Metal giants Black Sabbath. It was the first song they recorded after their guitarist Tony Iommi’s accident in which he lost two part of his two fingers.
Not one to be bogged down, Tony used a device with extensions that helped make his stumps work like fingers. He loosened his strings three steps down to bend them more easily and went on to create this masterpiece.
Spirits of Steel! Seriously man!
10. Kurt smells like teen spirit – Kathleen Hanna (singer of punk band Bikini Kill) spray painted this on his bedroom wall. Kurt thought it was a pretty revolutionary and inspiring slogan and went on to write the most iconic song of 90’s.
Well. The spray-painted slogan had nothing to do with revolutionary or inspiring. It was actually a silly joke. Teen Spirit was a woman’s deodorant which Kurt’s erstwhile girlfriend used. So. Our Kathleen cleverly coined the slogan and rest is history!
There are hundreds of stories like it, as there are many faces of Rock n’ roll and our favorite artistes throughout genres and decades. By the way, did you know that on the team of recent Pluto Mission there was an Astrophysicist named ‘Brian May ’. Now, that name sounds familiar, doesn’t it. Well, as he would like to say, ‘ We will, we will rock you!’