Tuesday 18th April 2006
FROM JERRY LEE’S CRAFTY KANGA TO ELVIS’ KING-SIZED SANDWICH..
By NICK WEBSTER
WHEN it comes to wild, weird and wacky legends, rock’n’roll boasts more than its fair share – and we don’t just mean singers who bite the heads off bats.
Did you know that Debbie Harry had a close brush with a serial killer? Or that a Dylan fan came home to see his hero drinking tea in his front room?
Now the most bizarre stories from 50 years of music history have been collated in Rock’n’Roll’s Strangest Moments.
Here are a few of the book’s most extraordinary tales…
AT THE HOP
ROCK’n’roll veteran Jerry Lee Lewis was driving through the Australian outback in the 1970s when he was a kangaroo leaning motionless against a tree. Believing the animal was dead, he decided it was a photo opportunity not to be missed.
Apparently, he and a roadie dressed it in a tour jacket for a photo. But the camera flash roused the roo, which was merely stunned. It then bounded off, wearing the bomber jacket.
EVER wondered why David Bowie’s eyes are different colours? At the age 13, while a schoolboy in Bromley, Kent, he got into a fight over a girl with his mate, George Underwood.
The brawl put Bowie in hospital and in danger of losing the sight in one eye. He was left with an enlarged pupil in the left eye which now shows as hazel, compared with the blue of his other eye. Perhaps even more bizarrely, he remained friends with Underwood.
THE SLAB FOUR
THERE was outrage in America on the release of The Beatles’ Yesterday And Today album in 1966. The cause? The cover.
It showed the Fab Four in butchers’ smocks, adorned with raw meat, glass eyes, false teeth and nude decapitated dolls, and sporting “sick, sadistic leers”. The offending sleeve was hastily withdrawn and reissued with a more user-friendly photo.
John Lennon later said the original snap – taken by Robert Whitaker – was inspired by how sick the band were at having to do yet another squeaky clean photo session.
I FOUGHT THE LAW
THE Steve Miller Band single-handedly stopped one of rock’n’roll’s most spectacular riots.
The aggro was in full swing when they took the stage at the 1969 Cherry Blossom Festival in Richmond, Virginia.
Police had been arresting fans en masse for drug taking, leading to a pitched battle. So Miller dedicated their next number to the lawmen.
As the band struck up The Star Spangled Banner, the officers removed their helmets and stood in respectful silence – and the fighting ceased.
KNOCKING ON THE WRONG DOOR
ON a trip to London in the late ’90s, Bob Dylan decided to visit his friend Dave Stewart. He’d never been to the North London home of the ex-Eurythmics guitarist but had the address.
On arrival, a woman told him, “Dave’s gone out, but he’ll only be a few minutes”. Bob decided to wait – not realising he was at the wrong address.
So when a Dave Stewart – a life-long Dylan fan but not the Dave Stewart – did return, he was stunned to discover his hero sat in his house drinking tea.
KILLED BY DEATH
NORWEGIAN group Mayhem are among the pioneers of the gruesome genre death metal.
After singer Per Yngve Ohlin blew his brains out, he was found by the group’s founder member Oystein Aarseth. Bizarrely, Aarseth took pictures of the body before collecting pieces if brain and skull. He later made necklaces with the bone and cooked and ate bits of brain.
Aarseth was stabbed to death two years later by Varg Vikernes of fellow death metallers Burzum.
HURRY UP HARRY
LATE one night in the early ’70s, Blondie singer Debbie Harry was looking for a cab in New York when a small white car drew up and the male driver offered her a ride.
She jumped in, but soon realised her mistake. There were no door or window handles and – even though it was summer – all the windows were closed, bar one which had a tiny gap. Panicking, she reached through that gap, opened the door, rolling out as the driver sped away.
A decade later, Harry realised she’d narrowly escaped serial killer Ted Bundy.
ALL STUFFED UP
ELVIS Presley once flew two guests from Graceland to Denver’s Stapleton Airport to sample the legendary Fool’s Gold sandwich.
It was an entire baguette, smeared with butter and browned in the oven, then sliced lengthways, hollowed out and filled with a jar of peanut butter, a jar of strawberry jam and a pound of crispy bacon.
A feast fit for a King.
A RIGHT CHARLIE
SOUL legend Ray Charles had kicked a heroin habit in the mid ’60s, but was nearly busted for drugs when entering New Zealand in 1991. Customs sniffer dogs jumped all over Ray, but they were just wild for the smell emanating from his pockets – pork scratchings.
Rock’n’Roll’s Strangest Moments by Mike Evans
(Robson Books, £8.99).