Music History The 12 Drunkest Musical Performances In History  

Sean Kelly
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Rock n' roll goes hand in hand with debauchery that is, until someone can't play guitar or remember the words. It's not entirely surprising that some of your favorite rock stars might have indulged a bit too much on stage over the years, but sometimes things go too far and make for some very uncomfortable performances. Other times they can lead to near death experiences.

Whether or not the artists themselves had substance abuse problems at the time, most of the drunkest performances in history come mostly from bands who were known to party a bit too hard. Others are certainly surprising..

Let's take a look at times performers tipped a few too many before hitting the stage.

1

Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong (2012)


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Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong's years of drinking and substance abuse finally caught up with him in 2012 while his band was performing at the iHeart Music Festival in Las Vegas. When a monitor alerted him mid-song that they had one minute left to peform, Armstrong stopped the song and went on an intoxicated tirade against the festival for cutting their set short.

"I remember tiny things," Armstrong later said of the incident, which led to him entering rehab. "The next morning, I woke up. I asked [my wife] Adrienne, ‘How bad was it?’ She said, ‘It’s bad.’ I called my manager. He said, ‘You’re getting on a plane, going back to Oakland and going into rehab immediately.'"

2

Nirvana's Kurt Cobain (1991)


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While on tour in 1991 prior to the massive success they achieved with "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Nirvana played a sloppy version of the Nevermind cut "In Bloom," complete with plenty of stumbles both literally and musically. In the beginning of a clip of the incident, front man Kurt Cobain can be seen swerving around the stage and staggering his way through the performance.

The tour in question, a double-header that also featured Sonic Youth, was full of drinking and partying - as told by Dave Markey, a friend of Sonic Youth who accompanied the bands and filmed the festivities. That tour also brought Cobain together with wife Courtney Love, who was dating Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan at the time and attended the Rotterdam show. 

3

Guns N' Roses' Slash (1991)


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Guns N' Roses arrived on the scene with a reputation for intense debauchery and incredibly sloppy performances. One of those performances happened in 1991 when guitarist Slash struggled to play the intro to the band's hit "Welcome To The Jungle" - seemingly too drunk to comprehend the notes he was playing. 

In all, 1991 was an eventful year for the legendary hard rock guitarist, who made headlines for cursing at the American Music Awards. 

"I don’t know what I said onstage, but it was short and sweet. I don’t think there were too many 'f*cks' in it," he said at the time. 

4

Beach Boys' Carl Wilson (1978)


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During a 1978 performance of "Good Vibrations," the Beach Boys' Carl Wilson drunkenly stumbled over lyrics and went extremely off pitch throughout his signature lead. It was a low point in the band's history, which continued to get lower until the death of Wilson's brother Dennis 1983. Carl died of lung cancer in 1998, decades after the height of their commercial success and their landmark release Pet Sounds.