10 Awful Crimes Committed By Famous 80s Rockstars

10 Awful Crimes Committed By Famous 80s Rockstars | I Love Classic Rock Videos

Ozzy Osbourne's 1982 Night Flight interview - SSDoomCraft / Youtube

The 1980s rock and roll scene wasn’t all about ripped jeans, mullets, and anthems on the radio.  Behind the glitz and glamour, many rockstars of the era led wild lives that sometimes crossed over into illegal territory. 

This article will delve into the darker side of 80s rock and roll, counting down some of the most notorious crimes committed by the generation’s biggest stars.

We’ll be exploring a range of offenses, from outbursts of vandalism and onstage brawls to truly shocking acts. Join us as we lift the veil on the lesser-known stories of 80s rock legends and explore the consequences they faced for their actions.

1. Dave Holland of Judas Priest

In 1979, Judas Priest tapped drummer Dave Holland, formerly of Trapeze, to fill the shoes of Les Binks. Over the next decade, Holland became a key part of the band’s sound, contributing to iconic albums like “Screaming for Vengeance” and “Turbo”.

However, his career was tragically tarnished in 2004 when he was convicted of assaulting a young drumming student. Despite his denials, the case sparked outrage and Judas Priest publicly condemned his actions. Holland served an eight-year sentence and passed away in 2018 from complications believed to be related to lung cancer.

2. Sebastian Bach of Skid Row

Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach found himself at the center of a violent incident during a 1989 concert. The band was opening for Aerosmith at the Springfield Civic Center in Massachusetts when things took a turn. After being struck in the head by a bottle thrown from the crowd, Bach reacted impulsively.

He hurled the bottle back, tragically injuring a bystander. Not stopping there, he jumped into the audience and kicked another fan before being restrained. The aftermath resulted in Bach’s arrest and a hefty financial consequence – a reported $500,000 cash settlement – for his actions.

3. Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses

Axl Rose, the fiery frontman of Guns N’ Roses, ignited chaos during a 1991 concert in Missouri.  On July 2nd, at the Riverport Amphitheater, tensions flared mid-song when Rose spotted a fan snapping pictures. He demanded security confiscate the camera, but frustration mounted when it wasn’t done.

In a shocking move, Rose leaped into the crowd himself, sparking a full-blown riot. The enraged audience trashed the venue, leaving 65 people injured and causing $200,000 in damage. Rose eventually faced legal repercussions, receiving a two-year probation sentence for his role in inciting the mayhem.

4. Great White

The 80s rock band Great White, despite forming earlier, achieved mainstream recognition during that decade. After disbanding in 2001, some members continued performing together. However, tragedy struck in February 2003 during a concert at The Station, a Rhode Island nightclub. Their pyrotechnics tragically ignited the flammable soundproofing foam, engulfing the venue in flames.

While most of the band escaped unharmed, the devastating fire trapped and killed 100 concertgoers. Though the band reached a million-dollar settlement with victims’ families, they were never criminally charged for the disaster.

5. GG Allin

GG Allin, a controversial figure born in Lancaster, New Hampshire in 1956, carved a unique path through the rock scene. His on-stage antics were notorious for their shocking and grotesque nature, so much so that details are best left unsaid. Allin’s off-stage life wasn’t much calmer. He faced legal troubles throughout his career, culminating in a high-profile arrest in 1989.

The charges stemmed from an alleged assault on a woman. While Allin denied the accusations, claiming the woman consented and pointing out inconsistencies in her story, he ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of felonious assault. This conviction landed him behind bars for fifteen months.

6. Rick James

Funk icon Rick James dominated the charts in the early 80s, with hits like “Give It to Me Baby” and “Super Freak” blending funk, rock, and new wave into a signature sound. However, his personal life took a dark turn in the 90s. In 1991, James and his girlfriend were arrested for the horrific assault and imprisonment of a young woman.

While awaiting trial, James shockingly committed another assault on a music executive. Facing the possibility of life behind bars, he was ultimately acquitted of the most serious charge – torture. Despite this, the severity of his actions landed him in prison for five years.

7. Ozzy Osbourne

The Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, rose to fame as the frontman of Black Sabbath and later as a solo artist, pioneering heavy metal in the 70s and 80s.  His rock and roll lifestyle, however, was often marred by battles with substance abuse. These struggles led to numerous brushes with the law, including a now-infamous incident of public intoxication where he relieved himself on a historical landmark.

However, Ozzy’s darkest moment came in August 1989 when, in a state of extreme intoxication, he allegedly attacked his wife Sharon with the intent to kill her. This horrific event led to his arrest on attempted murder charges. After a period of rehabilitation and Sharon’s decision to drop the charges, Ozzy began the long road to recovery.

8. Gary Glitter

Glam rock star Gary Glitter’s career took a sickening turn in the late 90s. His immense success in the 70s and 80s was shattered when he was caught with child pornography. This resulted in a four-month prison sentence, but upon release, Glitter fled to Southeast Asia, where his predatory behavior continued. He was arrested again in Cambodia and later Vietnam, facing charges and convictions related to child molestation.

Glitter’s attempt to escape justice ultimately failed. He was deported back to the UK, placed on the sex offender registry, and later faced additional charges for historical crimes committed in the 70s. Despite an early release after serving only eight years of a 16-year sentence, Glitter’s legacy remains forever tarnished by his horrific acts.

9. Tommy Lee & Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe

Mötley Crüe’s reputation for hard living extended beyond their music. Founding members Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx weren’t strangers to legal trouble. In 1997, a North Carolina concert spiraled out of control. Allegedly, Lee and Sixx instigated a riot, then targeted a security guard trying to restore order.

Reports claim Sixx hurled racial slurs and, along with Lee, doused the guard with alcohol. The incident led to arrests, fines, and probation for both rockers. This wasn’t Lee’s only legal issue around that time. He also served a separate six-month jail sentence for assaulting his then-wife, Pamela Anderson. 

10. Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe

And yes, the Mötley lifestyle isn’t only for the previous two. Frontman Vince Neil wasn’t immune to the band’s tumultuous lifestyle. In 1984, tragedy struck during a Los Angeles house party Neil hosted for Finnish rockers Hanoi Rocks. Days of partying led to a booze run with Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley. 

Severely intoxicated, Neil got behind the wheel, resulting in a horrific head-on collision. Both passengers were injured, with Dingley tragically succumbing to his injuries. Neil survived but faced the consequences – 30 days in jail and a hefty $2.6 million settlement for the victims.