1. Milli Vanilli Caught Lipsynching
Oh, Rob and Fab. The pair of model-dancers weren’t the first to be seduced by the smooth talk of producer Frank Farian, but they paid the most public price. When Farian, a veteran of the 70s disco scene, wanted to create a new group for the ’90s, he assembled a group of singers and musicians and started knocking out the hits. The only problem was, none of the new band members had the good looks necessary to succeed in the MTV era. Enter Rob Pilatius and Fabrice Morvan, who Farian discovered in a Berlin nightclub. As the lipsynching faces of Milli Vanilli, the two would sell over 30 million albums and even win a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1990. However, after a tape skipped at a live performance, the jig was up, and Farian had to come clean to the media, putting Rob and Fab out of a job.
2. Janet Jackson Wardrobe Malfunction
Halftime shows are usually a God-given break in the action to dash off to the restroom and take a quick piss. However, for those of us with larger bladders, the NFL needed to do something to fill the time, so the tradition of having the biggest bands in America rock us through the breakpoint of the Super Bowl was born. Most of the shows in the last decade have been eminently forgettable medleys of hits by bands like the Rolling Stones and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but one Super Bowl was a little different. In 2004, Janet Jackson was set to perform with Justin Timberlake. The two put on a high-energy number that concluded with Timberlake putting his hand on Jackson’s top and – ripping it off, revealing a bare breast clad with some sort of ornate nipple piercing. Cue FCC reprisals, irate complaints, and MTV never, ever being allowed to produce a halftime show again.
3. R. Kelly Sex Tape
They don’t call Robert Sylvester Kelly the “Pied Piper of R&B” for nothing – young ladies don’t seem to be able to resist the siren song of his voice. But the recording artist behind “Heaven, I Need A Hug” may have set his sights a little too low for propriety. Leaving aside his annulled marriage to a 15-year-old Aaliyah, the man has also gone to trial (and has been recently aqcuitted of all child pornography charges) for the contents of a videotape that hit the streets in 2002. The tape allegedly features R. Kelly and a 14 year old girl, the daughter of one of his associates, having dirty sex. The tape was quickly bootlegged all over urban America, with legal proceedings dragging on for years. In the words of the man himself, “Bin Laden is the only one who knows exactly what I am going through.” Yeah, that’s not going to win you a whole lot of sympathy, R
4. Suge Knight Dangles Vanilla Ice
Of all the people in the music industry to trifle with, why would you choose Suge Knight? The former Piru Blood associate made his name in the music business as a bodyguard for stars like Bobby Brown, and the bulky, imposing Compton native quickly used both his physical power and his business sense to dominate the burgeoning West Coast hip-hop scene. Suge’s negotiation tactics often included outside-the-box methods like lead pipes and baseball bats, but the Death Row exec’s greatest move was getting Vanilla Ice to sign away all of the publishing royalties to his smash hit “Ice Ice Baby” by allegedly dangling him from his ankles off of a 20th story balcony. Allegedly the song sampled music by one of Suge’s labels, but it wasn’t to matter – he got the money, and Ice got to walk away. Just think – if his hands had slipped, there’d be no “Ninja Rap.” A chilling premise indeed.
5. Michael Jackson Pedophile Scandal
Whether the King of Pop – from a fresh-faced young soul singer knocking out hits with his brothers in the Jackson 5 (even as father Joe knocked out kids with his belt) to a ghost-faced albino rotting away in Bahrain with two mysterious children and millions of dollars in debt? It’s more than fair to ask when things started to go so dramatically tits-up for Michael Jackson. In our eyes, it’s the pair of pedophilia scandals that destroyed his career. First, in 1993, Jordan Chandler, son of a Beverly Hills dentist, accused MJ of molesting him. Chandler eventually settled out of court for a sum rumored to be above $20 million. Not a good precedent, as further abuse charges were levied in 2003 by the parents of 14-year-old Gavin Avizo. Michael won the court case, but immediately fled the country, turning Captain EO into just another Gary Glitter, a very strange stranger in a strange land indeed.
6. Rick James Torture Party
Wild-eyed funk lord Rick James was one of Motown’s biggest stars during the 70s and early 80s, with his smash hit “Super Freak” serving as the soundtrack to many a dirty bump & grind. But James was a super freak in his private life as well, with a drug habit that would make Keith Richards blush. Snorting over $7,000 of cocaine a week, Rick James quickly found his judgment impaired, and in 1991 he and his girlfriend Tanya Hijazi kidnapped a woman named Frances Alley, held her hostage for nearly a week, and forced her to perform sexual acts in between burning her flesh with a crackpipe. While out on bail, he did the same to another woman, and that got him thrown in Folsom Prison for two years, where we hope the late glam-funskter did not became somebody’s b***h.
7. Jerry Lee Lewis Marries His Cousin
The wild man of Ferriday, Louisiana did more than almost any other artist to cement the image of a rock & roll star as a hard-living, sh-t-talking roustabout with no time for polite society. The piano-pounding entertainer went through women like Kleenex, but his appetite wasn’t considered a problem until the details of his third wife were revealed to the press. Myra Gale Brown was the daughter of Jerry Lee’s bass player, but she was a little closer to the Killer than that – she was also his first cousin, once removed. Even worse, when she and Jerry Lee got married, she was barely thirteen years old. The scandal caused Jerry Lee’s British tour to be cancelled after just three shows, and the pair fared no better in America, as his career took a nosedive. Radio wouldn’t play him, halls wouldn’t book him, and Myra divorced him in 1970.
8. Mystikal’s Hairstylist
Master P and the No Limit Soldiers are at this point a footnote at best in rap history – the tank-riding producer with the trademark call of “Hootie Hoo” sold some records but didn’t have the staying power. However, a few artists from his No Limit stable went on to some commercial success, most notably New Orleans-based Mystikal, whose unique flow and stage presence won him a #1 hit with “Shake Ya Ass.” But our man unfortunately never left the hood behind, as in 2004 he and two of his bodyguards imprisoned and sexually tortured his hairstylist, forcing her to perform oral sex on the Grammy-nominated rapper before accusing her of stealing $80,000 in checks from him. The rapper denied it until videotape of the assault was found in his home, at which point he was sentenced to six years in the pokey.
9. DMX Airport Carjack
Just because you’re one of the best-selling rappers of all time doesn’t mean you can’t also moonlight as a gun-toting lunatic. Earll Simmons, better known to the world as gruff-voiced rapper DMX, has an arrest record as long as your arm for a variety of crimes and disturbances. In between releasing multi-platinum records, DMX likes to get wild on a variety of legal and illegal drugs and drive fast, hit hard, and talk crazy. His whole rap sheet is too much to go into here, but an incident in 2004 is our favorite – while trying to find a place to park at New York’s JFK Airport, the cocaine-addled rapper pulled his gun on another driver, claiming to be a federal agent, and demanded the other driver leave his car – all because the multi-millionaire rapper didn’t want to have to pay for parking. Now that’s gangsta. And cheap.
10. Vince Neil Kills Razzle
Ah, Motley Crue. What other band has better captured the disgusting heavy metal lifestyle and come out intact? These four boys ruled the streets of Hollywood with an iron grip, deflowering innocent groupies and consuming a Herculean amount of controlled and uncontrolled substances. But all that hard living can take it’s toll, and we’re not talking about how frontman Vince now looks a lot like Jon Lovitz. In 1984, metal band Hanoi Rocks was in L.A., and their drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley was partying with Vince. Out of booze, the pair decided to drive to the liquor store – a trip that would be Razzle’s last hurrah. Vince plowed his car into another vehicle, killing Razzle and seriously injuring the other car’s passengers. The gruesome crash did nothing to halt Vince’s partying ways, and once he got out of jail the Crue kept on like nothing had happened.
11. Plies Opens Fire
Algernod Lanier Washington – who the hell is that? You probably know him better as million-selling rapper Plies, he of hits like “Shawty” and “Hypnotized.” The rapper isn’t content with just laying it down on wax, as he has also launched a reality dating show called Bust It Baby to find “the woman of his dreams,” because that worked out so well for Flavor Flav. But young Algernod also has himself some anger management issues, and they flared up with serious consequences at a 2006 show in Gainesville, Florida. When concert promoters told Plies that his show was going to be cut short by fifteen minutes to allow rapper Lil’ Boosie to perform immediately after, Plies and his entourage reportedly went wild, opening fire into the audience of 1,000 people. Thankfully nobody was seriously injured, but the vulgar display of firearms didn’t win Plies many fans.
12. Akon Gets Freaky
Akon, the rapper-singer of Senegalese descent most famous for the tender jam “I Want To F**k You,” is a man with needs. So many needs, in fact, that he’s rumored to be a practicing polygamist with five wives. So it should have come as no surprise when, at a concert in Trinidad and Tobago, Akon pulled a girl up on stage and performed very convincing faked coitus with her. Unfortunately, the girl was only 15, and once video footage of the act got out, the media was calling for Akon’s head on a platter. In one of the least convincing apologies we’ve ever heard, the singer released a song called “Sorry, Blame It On Me” where he says that the club shouldn’t have let the girl in, the girl’s parents shouldn’t have let her go out dressed like that, and Verizon shouldn’t have stopped selling his ringtones. Well, since you put it that way
13. ODB cashes welfare checks on MTV
The world is a much less sunny place without Russell Tyrone Jones, better known as the Ol’ Dirty Bastard. As one of the founding members of the Wu Tang Clan, ODB brought a gruff, scatterbrained verbal delivery to some of the group’s best tracks, as well as putting out a pair of solo albums before his death in 2004. The Wu-Tang Clan was never hurting for money, not only because of substantial album sales. but merchandise including Wu Wear clothing and individual 1-900 numbers for each member of the band funneling cash into their pockets. So what would possess Ol’ Dirty, while being filmed by MTV News, to pile two of his 11 kids into a chauffeured limousine and drive them to the welfare office to pick up his check? Dirty, feeling not an iota of shame, waltzes out of the building with a pocket full of government cash, even as his first solo album, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version was going gold.
14. Live Crew Banned In Florida
It seems ridiculous that the state that brought us Miami booty bass could see fit to declare music obscene, but it happened back in 1989. When foul-mouthed rap group 2 Live Crew released As Nasty As They Wanna Be, and the lead-off single “Me So Horny” became a nationwide hit. However, Florida lawyer Jack Thompson (yes, that Jack Thompson) petitioned the Broward County Sherriff to declare the material obscene and bust record stores selling it. When the group was to perform perform said material at a local venue in the Sunshine State, the three lead rappers were arrested and jailed. The band filed suit and it went all the way to the Supreme Court, who ruled that Thompson and his ilk had no right to disrupt free speech, no matter how nasty it wanted to be. In positive news, the album went on to move over two million copies, proving that scandal = sales.
15. Prince’s Baby Deformed
The artist formerly known as Prince and now currently known as Prince is a very captivating figure – leading a reclusive life at his Paisley Park mansion, going door-to-door with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and generally being quite the weird dude. His song “Darling Nikki,” with its explicit descriptions of nasty sex, led Tipper Gore to found the PMRC and push for warning stickers on records. But one of Prince’s secret scandals has been so hushed-up that few know about it. In 1997, Prince and his then-wife Mayte Garcia gave birth to the Purple One’s only son, but the boy was born with Pfeiffer’s Syndrome, a rare skull deformity, and died after a week. Two of Prince’s assistants went to the press with allegations that the star had prematurely removed the baby from life support. Oddly enough, the baby’s birth certificate doesn’t clearly document Prince’s patriarchy, and the couple has never publicly acknowledged the baby’s death.