Seven Unforgettable Rock Scandals
Fight the Real Enemy
Irish songstress Sinead O’Connor was a huge star when she appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1992. The show, hosted by Tim Robbins, was expected to feature a normal performance. But unknown to SNL, O’Connor had a trick up her sleeve. She sang Bob Marley’s “War” acapella, and then capped the thrilling performance by pulling out a photograph of Pope John Paul II and tearing it up. “Fight the real enemy,” she said. This prompted protests and anger by Catholics and effectively ended O’Connor’s career in the U.S. SNL refuses to show the clip. O’Connor explained that there was a child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Her comments were excoriated by the public and the media. However, several years later, the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal made headlines all over the world. The Church protected pedophile priests for decades. Despite the fact that O’Connor was right, the incident is still described as the rantings of a crazy woman.
I’mma Let You Finish
No list of music scandals would be complete without Kanye West and Taylor Swift. Their beef goes back to the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, where young Swift was given a VMA for best Female Video, beating out Beyonce. West, who had plenty of drinks before this award was given, rushed the stage and grabbed the mic. “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you — I’ll let you finish — but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time,” he said. This moment led to months of debate about whether what West did was horrible, and later, whether Taylor Swift was the horrible one.
West and Swift later reconciled and posed with each other at another award show, suggesting they were now “friends.” Fast forward to 2016, when West released his album, The Life of Pablo. In the song “Famous,” West rapped about Swift:
“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b–h famous,” he said.
This immediately created attention and a backlash. Swift said the lyrics offended her and accused the rapper of being misogynistic. Her fans started a jihad against Kanye. Then West said he had warned Swift about the lyrics during a phone call and Taylor gave him permission. She denied hearing the lyrics before the album came out. Enter West’s wife, the much-reviled Kim Kardashian, of sex tape fame. Kardashian appeared on Snapchat and released videos that seemed to show Swift and West talking on the phone about the song, giving him permission to use it. Swift was outraged. The world deemed West and Kardashian the victors.
Lesbian Lovers Turned Kiddie Pornographers
Russian duo Tatu was tailor made for an age of burgeoning porn and lower music standards. They were marketed as lesbian overs, but the teen girls were actually straight. In 2003, they did a talent search for teen girls who wanted to do a naked photo shoot for their new album cover. The press release even asked for girls as young as 14. The Russian police immediately intervened, shutting down the photoshoot, and in effect, the short-lived career of Tatu.
Rick James, Bitch
Rick James has been a Super Freak all his life, including his ability to hoover up more cocaine than almost every musician who ever lived. This is quite a feat. James once spent up to $7,000 a week feeding his habit. In 1991, James went on a drug-fueled crime spree with his girlfriend Tanya, when they kidnapped a woman and locked her in the closet for a week. During her captivity, the victim was tortured and forced to perform sex acts with the couple. James got arrested and released on bail… when he promptly decided to do it all over again, to a different woman. Amazingly, James only served two years in prison.
All that Gary Glitters
Gary Glitter is best known for the unavoidable song, “Rock and Roll Part 2,” which plays at every sporting event until the end of time. (No one even knows if there ever was a “Rock and Roll Part 1.”) But Glitter is a notorious child predator who has traveled the world in search of young girls. Eventually the law caught up to Glitter, when police found 4,000 images of child porn on his hard drive. After his arrest, Glitter escaped and went to Cambodia. However, in Cambodia, Glitter continued his pedophile ways, and he was deported to Vietnam, where he continued… well, you get the point. When Glitter was finally deported back to Britain, he was sent to prison for 16 years for rape. He remains in prison and is Britain’s “leading hate figure.”
Girl You Know It’s True…
… Milli Vanilli couldn’t sing. The winners of a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, Milli Vanilli kicked off the 1990’s as one of the industry’s hottest acts. Lip syncing is common, particularly during live performances, but the world soon discovered that Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan didn’t sing at all. In fact, their breakout album, Girl You Know It’s True, was sung by other people. This scandal was a disaster, leading the Grammy’s to strip their award and making the duo reviled by the public. Milli Vanilli recorded a follow-up album which did have them singing, but it was too late. The damage was done, and they only sold 2,000 copies.